In a nutshell: Slick and political, Clooney on the campaign trail.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

George Clooney is no stranger to politics. The silver-haired Hollywood A-lister became a prominent supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy during the 2008 US election. His father Nick even ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress some years ago.

But Clooney confessed earlier this year that a career in politics could never be a reality for him due to his colourful past. He made it clear, he would not be following in the footsteps of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan and thereby instigating a media frenzy, with the press constantly digging up the skeletons in his closet. Perhaps, rather than run for office, the actor-turned-director has decided to make his point by making politically charged films instead –  a worthy diversion from his impossible ambitions.

Whatever the reason, The Ides of March shows a director on top form, supported by an actor who is sure to be propelled into the echelons of the film elite. Following on from his star turn in Drive, Ryan Gosling is superb as the smooth, slick campaign manager Stephen Meyers who is helping Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) to win a Democratic primary election.

Mirroring Obama’s campaign, Morris is seemingly a symbol of hope in a world of lies, corruption and belt tightening. Naturally, all is not as well as it seems. Soon it’s exposed that Meyers secretly meets – albeit for fairly innocent reasons – rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti, always comfortable in a villain’s role). Then, when Meyers learns that Morris has a very dirty secret indeed, it’s a ruthless scrabble as each man uses their bargaining chips to get on top.

The Ides of March proves to be excellent as a thriller, if not particularly convincing as real life. Meyers seems shocked at the lengths his rivals and supposed friends will go to ruin him – this is despite his age and the fact he’s supposed to be very experienced, an asset, the jewel in Morris’s crown. It’s hard to believe this is the first time he realises politics is a dirty game.

If you can get over this hurdle, the rest of the package is slick and immersive but you probably need at least a passing interest in politics to get into it.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

  1. Nick says:

    This one’s in my Netflix queue. Gosling impressed me in Blue Valentine – glad he hasn’t fallen back on the safety of RomComs, and instead, gone for riskier choices.

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