it is all about the little things. at least in the ides of march it is.
once again, the faces of a-list hollywood succeed in getting my friday night attendance. you say ryan gosling and george clooney, and i deem it worth breaking the proverbially slim (but undeniably true) intern budget bank and splurge. throw in philip seymour hoffman, paul giamatti, and a politically-driven plot (have i mentioned that i live in DC?) and i feel quite justified. here is the tagline provided by imdb:
an idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.
fair enough. the tagline is true to form, and movie ends with more layers than when it began. tensions arising in political aspirations, moral convictions…you know the drill. set in and around cincinnati (perhaps an homage to clooney’s home), you get a feel for the grind of a political campaign. no sense in looking for a happy ending in ides, though. when it rains, it pours – and no one in this movie can wash their hands from how their choices affect one another. i came across only one major surprise, but overall it was an enjoyable movie experience. the main conflict is expressed fairly early in the film, but by time you reach the end you realize that the career of stephen meyers (gosling) has only begun.
forewarning: the music is a bit melodramatic for the otherwise average dialogue. what the movie does take time for is the little things. cue the characterization of gosling’s character, stephen.
remember how i was sold on the a-list duo of clooney and gosling? it had vestiges of another pretty pairing that i’ve seen:
but something was different in the ides of march. stephen (gosling) is the young staffer. he’s not mr. suave-fulfilling-all-of-my-projections-hero-to-both-men-and-women that i have seen in a few of his recent roles. make no mistake: ryan gosling can fill a suit nicely; however, the only time i am reminded of this fact is toward the end of the movie, when he is encumbered by the increasing mess of his situation. the more buried he gets in his investment to the campaign, the more put together he looks. indicative of life under the political microscope? i guess that is the point.
quick side note on ryan gosling. you know how al pacino needs a classic rant in almost every one of his films? kinda like how matt damon usually needs to yell a frustrated “i don’t know what’s happening!” as if the whole world is playing a joke on him? also kinda like how keanu reeves can’t act unless he’s angry (see: the devil’s advocate for examples of angry performances from both pacino and reeves)? ryan gosling is moving toward this not-so elite club ( keanu reeves is in this category, what did you expect?). the club where the pre-filming read through included notes of angrily stalking off while the camera zooms out and the dramatic music follows. i get that he is a versatile actor, but i am almost over the idealist-with-a-reason-to-turn-vengeful scene that is becoming a bit common for dear gosling. good thing ‘almost’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
phew, glad i got that off my chest. a few final thoughts on the film. phillip seymour hoffman and paul giamatti are great, and play into the win-at-all-costs chief staffer roles brilliantly. they faithfully perform their duty, and they are good at what they do. in this case i am referring to their respective characters, but it feeds into my projections of both of these men and their approach to their profession. solid performances. i could have done without some of the cursing– it seemed as if there was not enough incendiary material to keep the R-rating, and giamatti and hoffman were told to throw in a few more expletives for added measure. the obligatory r-rated cursing notwithstanding, i enjoyed their performances.
finally, a quick work on the lighting. if nothing else, pay attention to the cinematography in the ides of march. this movie utilizes shadows and darkness (and subsequently, light) in a way reminiscent of film noire. it is this detail that gives the movie its substance and keeps the viewer hooked throughout.
george clooney and ryan gosling? check. great supporting cast, and an attention to subtle details? absolutely.
et tu, ryan gosling?