Toronto International Film Festival 2011: ‘The Ides of March’


Director: George Clooney

Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood

Country: USA

This dark, angry movie wants to be a smart, keep-you-guessing political thriller but winds up a wildly improbable and deeply cynical melodrama. Offering no clear villain to despise and almost no payoff to reward the audience, the picture is admirably reminiscent of such Nixon-era political disillusion-fests as The Candidate or All the President’s Men. But, unlike those mostly clever films (which were complicated enough to feel realistic), this one is almost incredibly straightforward.

Ryan Gosling plays the (hugely incompetent) assistant campaign manager to George Clooney’s Mike Morris, a far-left Democratic hopeful in the final week of the all-important Ohio primary. As the campaign accelerates toward the vote, Gosling discovers that Morris, his erstwhile hero, is not the perfect man and eventual saviour of America he had built him up to be (a discovery which we are asked to believe is shocking, but the revelation feels more like eminently obvious from the opening frame). Eventually, Gosling is forced to choose: expose his boss, or cover up the mess.

Featuring great work by Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as two senior campaign managers in locked horns (one a cynical manipulator (black hair), the other a steadfast true believer (blonde!)), Marisa Tomei as a tenacious reporter nipping at their heels, and Evan Rachel Wood as the inevitable over-sexed intern, the script (based on a stage play by Beau Willimon) rides far too many clichés. There is even a dead blonde girl for good measure.

RATING 4 / 10