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The Ides of March - DVD Review

The Ides of March

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

GEORGE Clooney’s political drama The Ides of March offers an embarrassment of riches for any cinema fan.

Intelligent, eye-opening, funny and thought provoking, it also offers another outstanding leading performance from the hotter-than-hot right now Ryan Gosling and terrific support from the likes of Clooney himself, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei.

Based on the award-winning play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, The Ides of March marks Clooney’s fourth film as director and is based upon an adapted script from himself and regular producing buddy Grant Heslov.

Set during a presidential primary race, it focuses on hot-shot press spokesman Stephen Myers (Gosling), who is determined to land Democratic hopeful Governor Morris (Clooney) a ticket to the White House by beating his closest rival.

Also in the Morris camp are experienced campaign manager Paul Zara (Hoffman), who is something of a father-figure to Myers, and well-connected intern Molly Stearns (Wood), with whom Myers begins an ill-advised affair.

Lining up among the rivals, however, are rival candidate’s manager Tom Duffy (Giamatti), whose offer of a clandestine meeting to try and coax Myers onto his team sets forward a chain of events that could help to shape the fate of the election race.

To be fair, The Ides of March isn’t really revealing anything that the more astute political follower doesn’t already know or suspect anyway, but the thrill lies in watching how events unfold.

Much like The West Wing or Clooney’s own Goodnight, And Good Luck, the fun here lies in watching the various moral and ethical dilemmas present themselves and how the people affected react.

In Myers case, it makes for an eye-opening journey of how to play the political game at its most high stakes and how not to be played, while uncovering a ruthless streak within his own demeanour that he may not have realised existed.

Watching Gosling go through the mill and play the game is another acting master-class. But it’s only right he brought his A-game given the talent he’s surrounded by.

Clooney, for his part, takes a back-seat to the main proceedings, opting instead to concentrate on the clever screenplay and the slick, stylish direction, which draws on some of the filmmakers (Steven Soderbergh especially) that he has learned from over the years.

But as an actor, too, he knows where and when to give each of his talented ensemble players the right moment to shine (himself included) and no one here feels wasted.

The ensuing political drama is quick-witted, fast-moving and never outstays its welcome. It’s the work of a master craftsman that only looks set to elevate Clooney’s already impressive reputation still higher.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: March 5, 2012