After Leatherheads, George Clooney is back on form with his latest directorial turn The Ides of March. This political thriller focuses on the campaign trail for Clooney’s presidential candidate and the questions of morality it raises for all of the characters involved.
Ryan Gosling is certainly the man of the moment, and his performance in Ides is superb. After Drive where his character relied on actions not words, Gosling proves that he can deliver dialogue thick and fast even managing to outshine Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. His character holds the piece together, and his fall from grace is absolutely engrossing.
That being said the supporting cast is also very strong with Giamatta, Tomei, Seymour Hoffman and even Clooney all creating enthralling characters. The only weak link is Rachel Evan Wood, whose young intern is never given enough screen time to develop fully and doesn’t manage to hold her own.
One of the joys of Ides is how concise and solid Clooney keeps the plot. At a relatively lean 101 minutes the film moves fast without compromising performance or story. At heart it is a simple morality tale, where Gosling’s character must decide whether to follow his head or heart in order to get benefit his career. There has not been a political thriller of this sort since the 70s and it is refreshing to have something which focuses on politicians instead of the secret service.
Just like Good Night and Good Luck, this thriller examines the darker side of American politics to great effect. The only issue is that that the message itself just does not seem that revelatory. For a many decades since Watergate, most are aware that Presidents have not always been as honest as they appear. Therefore Clooney’s shady politician just does not seem that interesting as a central issue. It would have been far more fascinating t0 tackle one of the more relevant and important issues in modern American Politics.
The Ides of March is a truly gripping drama which proves that not only is Clooney a great director but Gosling has come into his own as an actor.