Monday, January 23, 2012
The Ides of March (2011)
I just watched The Ides of March, starring and directed by George Clooney.
I enjoyed this adaptation of Beau Willimon's Farragut North (Willimon collaborated with George Clooney and Grant Heslov on the adaptation for the screen.)
You've seen this movie before. Probably you've seen this movie several times.
It's another story about the essential amorality of politics.
So nothing new here thematically or even stylistically.
But the acting is impeccable. The movie is scored subtly and beautifully. Many of the scenes culminate in gorgeously framed stills.
It's chock-a-block with previous Oscar winners and nominees.
Ryan Gosling, doubtless one of the hardest working and most congenial actors out there, ratchets his career up a notch or two with this memorable performance.
But I understand why the movie got some middling or lukewarm reviews by critics who have been around the block more than a few times.
My biggest argument was with the script actually.
SPOILER ALERT: Don't read any further if you want to watch this movie "fresh."
Okay, you were warned.
In the pivotal plot turn of the movie, we discover Mr. Nice Guy Liberal presidential candidate has impregnated a twenty year old intern (whose father just happens to be the head of the DNC).
Gosling's character, the presidential candidate's junior campaign manger, takes it upon himself to do the damage control and chauffeur her to an abortion clinic after telling her what she's going to do with her unborn baby. He never for a second considers this might be her choice (she's also Catholic) but instead forces her into this position. He also happens to be sleeping with her.
Anyway, here's where the script makes a dumb move.
Gosling's character is easily making in excess of 100K per annum in his job.
And yet he goes through another campaign co-worker and oh-so-suspiciously cajoles a measly nine hundred dollars from campaign funds to pay for the young woman's abortion.
No. No. And no.
This character would have used his own money to fund this, effectively keeping this powderkeg as deeply buried as possible.
He would never have risked exposure by nickel-and-diming the campaign funds for this. He would have never told the other guy to cook the books over something like that.
Also, in that same scene he pointlessly writes a message to the young woman on a piece of paper--when what he wrote could have easily been spoken aloud (hidden mics or not).
And he had to dramatically meet her in a dark, out of the way stairwell. He could have met her in a sunny park. If nobody is standing within twenty feet of you who gives a shit where you speak?
So dumb sometimes.
I'd give this move an 8 out of 10.
If I had to use a rating system.
But if you miss it, don't worry.
It won't be a life changer. Unless you're a very naive twelve year old or something like that.
P.S. Best dialogue (very quotable) in this movie is Phillip Seymour-Hoffman's barroom speech about what makes a great politician. He employs a number or rhetorical devices (mostly antitheses) which come off beautifully and strike one as the unadultered truth about the qualities which lie behind the cult of personality.