Friday, June 8, 2012
Beware, Caesar, March 15th!
To a Canadian born and raised in a parliamentary democracy, the Byzantine U.S. federal system will always possess a certain alien charm -- and, frankly, a simmering alien horror. The Ides of March lays out the joys and horrors of this overly moneyed, often paradoxical system of democracy without ever seeming preachy or too laden with politicobabble.
Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, 30-year-old second-in-command of Governor Mike Morris's campaign to win the Democratic primaries. We follow the campaign during a tumultuous week in Ohio, as deals and double-deals and betrayals and potentially career-ending events swirl in and around the campaign. The dialogue is mostly sharp, the performances lived-in and solid. No one here plays a dummy. And the actors are all up to playing smart.
Gosling shines in playing someone who's both savvy and idealistic. Honouring the audience's intelligence, the final scene leaves it to the viewer to decide how much that idealism has been shattered by the events of the film. It's a quiet, subtle, Oscar-quality performance.
Indeed, there isn't a weak performance in the movie. Clooney is utterly believeable as a charismatic candidate promising hope and change; Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti make for crafty and rumpled long-time backroom opponents; even Evan Rachel Wood nails her role as a pretty, connected intern who gets caught up in the undertow of dangerous political depths. Highly recommended.