The Ides of March

  • Genre: Drama

  • Director: George Clooney

  • Stars: Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling

  • Rate: ** 1/2

George Clooney’s presidential campaign drama traverses familiar political corridors, tut-tutting over backroom manoeuvres and minor loyalty tests as if this were 1952 rather than 2012. That’s entirely forgivable, because stellar performances make the movie: Ryan Gosling and Clooney lead a crack cast that also includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and Marisa Tomei, all at the top of their game. They’re great to watch together, even if your eyes occasionally roll.

Clooney, in his fourth and most accomplished directorial turn, casts himself as Mike Morris, the Pennsylvania governor who seeks to lead the Democrats in a presidential contest, first by winning the crucial Ohio primary. The film’s central figure isn’t Morris, but his press wrangler, Stephen Myers (Gosling). The talent’s all there, but Clooney and frequent collaborator Grant Heslov lose the plot in their screen adaptation, with Beau Willimon, of Willimon’s play, Farragut North. Clooney’s probe of situational ethics won’t come as a revelation to anyone who has seen Primary Colors, The Candidate, Robert Altman’s Tanner ’88 TV miniseries or any number of similar political movies.

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