Wednesday, January 4, 2012

MA$$ACRE: The Ides of March (2011)

Based on the title alone, you'd guess that there's going to be a little bit of backstabbing going on in George Clooney's political thriller The Ides of March. You'd be right, and although character assassination is usually bloodless, that doesn't mean that it can't be downright messy. Not only does Clooney direct here, he also co-wrote the screenplay (adapted from a stage play by Beau Willimon) and he co-stars along Ryan Gosling. If there's one thing that suffering through The Room taught me, it's that taking on so many roles usually leads to disaster. Clooney pulls it off here, mostly due to a tight script and a really strong supporting cast including Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Marissa Tomei. Gosling takes center stage as Stephen Meyers, the idealistic young campaign manager for the seemingly indestructible Mike Morris (Clooney). Morris is a governor on his way to the top of the democratic primaries if only he can cut through the staid traditionalists currently in office. When a seemingly innocuous meeting between Meyers and the manager of the opposing campaign (Giamatti) threatens to oust him from his job entirely and the dirty underbelly of Morris' personal life begins to threaten the campaign, Meyers is forced into a decision between maintaining his idealism for the greater good of the campaign or tearing down everything to expose the corruption. Clooney's candidate is a little too one-dimensionally perfect (until you find out he's not), but the rest of the cast does a decent job at showing the particular form of indecision they're struggling with. Giamatti particularly (who in my opinion can do no wrong) really captures the frustration of a man who's been forced into compromise after compromise and is just trying to get by without sacrificing too much more of his soul. The politics are really secondary to the story, and all in all it's a nice quick thriller with a few unexpected turns and decent performances throughout. A pleasant surprise, and worth all $2.

6 / 10 = Worth checking out.

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