REVIEW – The Ides of March (2011)

FilmJuice have my review of George Clooney’s much-hyped political thriller The Ides of March starring Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti.

As my review suggests, this is an entirely decent piece of filmmaking.  The story is a fundamentally interesting one, the direction is competent, the performances are entrancing and the whole thing looks and feels very much like an episode of The West Wing featuring some of the best thought-of actors in modern-day Hollywood. The problem is that, while The Ides of March is entirely decent, it is not particular exciting. Indeed, when I say that it looks and feels like an episode of The West Wing, I mean exactly that and while I liked The West Wing quite a bit at the time, I do think that a serious political film has to do a little bit more than ape a decade-old TV programme:

Whether on a visual or narrative level, Clooney and co-screenwriter Grant Heslov really do not show us anything that we have not seen before. The tale of idealism crushed beneath the boots of political expediency is an old political saw and while the themes of fear and loyalty are interesting, Clooney’s direction fails to elevate them above the level of a subtle motif. Perhaps if Clooney had been less plodding in his direction and the film’s accusation had been more concrete and impassioned then Ides of March might have been a truly memorable piece of political filmmaking. Instead, Clooney’s latest is nothing more than an entertaining and competently directed romp featuring great performances from some of Hollywood’s most potent (and promising) acting talents.  Some Friday nights, that is more than enough.

I didn’t dislike the film and I would warmly recommend it to West Wing fans but no film this derivative should have this amount of buzz surrounding it.  That’s all I’m saying…