No, Caesar wasn’t in what’s being touted as a ‘political thriller’ but George Clooney certainly was and did he have his handsome mitts into everything as Producer, Director, Co-writer and Leading man.
He was like a Park Avenue Hostess without help.
George smartly surrounded himself with good actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose hair I was happy to see grew back from his role in ‘Moneyball,’ Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright and every girl’s not to mention a few boy’s new favorite cupcake, Ryan Gosling (I meant that well).
We’re on the campaign trail of Pennsylvania Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Mike Morris played by Clooney in the throes of enlisting Ohio’s support mainly by wooing a Senator by the name of Thompson played unctuously by Jeffrey Wright who you may remember from the film ‘Basquiat.’ It was a little like watching an episode of ‘The West Wing’ but not written quite as well. It’s a pity really because, though extremely well acted and entertaining, it could have been a much finer film. It was like a great dress without a lining.
First let me say, I never go to the movies expecting my life to change. It’s 2 hours more or less of quiet (providing no idiot’s talking) distraction taking me away from the everyday norm. I also don’t go in looking for what’s wrong and even though it could have been better ‘The Ides of March’ still has a lot going for it starting with its cast.
Let’s begin with Ryan Gosling who plays Stephen Meyers, Morris’s junior campaign manager who I loved in ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ (9/09). He has tons of swagger for one so young resurrecting the likes of James Dean and Steve McQueen. He possesses himself at all times holding his own next to the more seasoned Hoffman and even Clooney, who let’s face it, takes over the screen whenever he’s on it. I love Gosling’s concentration that never betrays him even when he’s zipping up after a night of hot interning in a room at The Hyatt.
Paul Giamatti as Jack Duffy playing for the other team is what he always is, the skilled character actor hitting his mark, making a point but frankly, who cares. I’m sorry, he leaves me cold since I rarely find him compelling, however I’ll admit we need him because he’s the glue that we can’t see holding things together, not a bad trait for an actor to have even if he’s not your particular cup of thespian.
Philip Seymour Hoffman is another matter entirely. You forget who he is the moment he appears the way he quickly disappears into his role. After just seeing him in ‘Moneyball’ (10/03) where he plays a fat, bald coach who I can honestly say I didn’t think of once as I watched him play Paul Zara, Morris’s senior campaign manager. And despite his girth he’s still a very alluring fella one I happen to find very attractive since his intelligence outweighs his fat, so to speak.
Evan Rachel Wood who I felt behind those demonic, plucked eyebrows some high on drugs make-up person gave her just didn’t quite pull off her ‘Lolita little intern act.’ I know better than anybody how handy the word fuck can be but when she says it, it evaporates too quickly into the ethers. She was wonderful in ‘Across the Universe’ and ‘The Upside of Anger’ but I truly think Miss Wood was miscast in the role of Molly Stearns. Sorry George.
And as far as Marisa Tomei playing a pesty Time Magazine reporter named Ida Horowitz goes, what a great actress wasted behind a cheap pair of glasses. Again I’m sorry, I loved her as the horny high school teacher in ‘Crazy Stupid Love,’ but it’s like having a split of Tattingers with meatloaf, wouldn’t it be wiser to save it for a more worthwhile meal? Who knows, maybe she’s in debt and needed the money. Of course, I’d come serve lunch to be that close to Clooney so I should just shut-up.
There is also one other lady, an outstanding actress, who barely gets a mention and the lady is none other than Jennifer Ehle who plays Mrs. Morris, amazingly I might add. There’s a sweet scene in the back of a limo between her and George that made me want to beg to be her new agent which she clearly needs. Her Elizabeth Bennett in A&E’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is one of the greatest performances of all time. I just don’t get this ‘small role bit’ (‘The King’s Speech’) although she is appearing presently in a TV series called ‘The Gifted Man’ so make sure you’re awake when she gets that Emmy.
Last but not least, the man behind the curtain who must be exhausted having so much to do is Mr. George Clooney and yes, have you figured out I’m a big fan? Personally I think he’s the closest thing to Cary Grant we’ll ever have. His range is pretty extraordinary since he never gives a bad performance. His presence on screen even though Hoffman and Gosling are on it more, makes you sit up straighter in your seat. George is aging but beautifully with more lines than a map of Hollywood and you know if a woman had them she would have been backlit by NASA.
Alas, the unfairness of gender, what can one say?
When I was coming out I heard a teenager say to her boyfriend, “George Clooney looks just like my dad.” I so wanted to ask if her parents were still together.
I didn’t, but now I’m sorry.
All in all, I liked ‘The Ides of March’ though I think the plot could have had more layers. The end, for instance, is a true old fashioned cliffhanger that comes way too soon with the suspense being dispensed with much too quickly.
Now that was a good place for an added threading, but who knows, maybe Clooney, who only makes about 300 films a year, needed to be somewhere.
That George, ya gotta love-em no matter what.