George Clooney’s latest, ‘The Ides of March’, is about a young idealistic campaign manager who finds his ideals challenged and must make the choice of whether to stick to his guns or ‘play the game’. It’s a good film and I’ve gone on record of being someone who drinks the Clooney Kool-Aid. But having said all that, this is my third favorite film of his as a director (behind Good Night and Good Luck and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). The real irony of that statement is I still consider this one of the better films I’ve seen this calendar year. Maybe it’s because at this point the studio system only gives us five adult dramas a year, but The Ides of March was film geek crack if that’s the case.
I was in a hotel room last week when I caught Clooney having a sitdown interview with Charlie Rose. He claims at this point in his Hollywood career, he’s just a character actor. That’s a tragic statement that probably has a lot of truth in it from a business point of view; regardless for the film he’s made here it makes complete sense. The cast is headlined by Ryan Gosling, who’s surrounded by Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, and Clooney himself. That…is not chopped liver for character actors. At all. So why didn’t I like this movie more?
Hard to say. I don’t have a strong like or dislike for Gosling; right down to the name I always think of him as a more serious version of Ryan Reynolds (which is not meant as a jab at either one of them). But maybe not having a strong connection to him hurt him in this role. He pulled off the character arc just fine; but if my instinct is telling me that a young Matt Damon or Affleck (or others) would have killed that role, maybe that’s not for the best. Or maybe I’m just being nitpicky cause I really loved Clooney’s other directorial efforts to this point.
More posts later in the week.