“The Ides of March”: Backstabbing in the backrooms

George Clooney’s fourth feature film as a director is a slick but ultimately unsurprising look at the underbelly of a progressive presidential campaign.

The Year of the Gosling continues as strategist, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) works for presidential wannabe, Mike Morris (George Clooney). He’s a firm, if naïve, believer in a politician’s integrity, but when he’s offered an enticing job for the opposing side, honesty and transparency take a backseat and we watch an underhand race to success.

Although it’s a self-proclaimed commentary on modern politics, the film feels distinctly claustrophobic: for the most part, the cinematography is dark, introspective and rarely below the third button of Gosling’s perfectly starched shirt. But if you expect to see much of suited and booted Clooney, you might leave feeling short-changed. His character appears in only a couple of scenes, giving would-be inspiring presidential speeches that scream Clooney’s inner vision if he were ever to run for real (if Damon doesn’t beat him to it).

As the film plays out, all attention is upon Gosling as he burrows deeper into the dirt, but while this is new territory for his character, it’s not for the audience. We know this is inevitable, that’s just how these campaigns work. Oh well. Another one bites the dust. And perhaps that’s the most accidentally chilling thing about this movie. That something so confidently and smartly executed seems so… tame and familiar. It has a message, but it’s nothing you didn’t know before: powerful men tend to objectify women; journalists aren’t infallible; and politicians lie. But if that’s news to you, “The Ides of March” may just be the most sensational film you see all year.


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