Cinemalphabet: I is for Ides of March (2011)
Actor and bon vivant George Clooney seems to have a fascination with – at least as a director – with portrayals of alpha males struggling inside pressure cookers of their own creation. It’s perhaps why I found Clooney’s previous directorial efforts (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck) technically masterful, but not especially compelling cinematic flights of fancy. This isn’t to suggest he’s a bad director; he’s not. And while there’s certainly lots of depth to be found in such alpha male stories, particularly when there’s a strong script involved, it’s a cinematic subject I find dreadfully boring. Even setting the film against the backdrop of political intrigue and general fuckery didn’t really elevate the material beyond that of a decent and entertaining political thriller.
Ides of March boasts an impressive cast of character actors whose performances, especially Jeffrey Wright and Paul Giamatti, are top notch in exactly the way we expect them to be. Ryan Gosling, whose presence I normally find incredibly grating, managed to impress me by not making the obvious choices with his character. Political strategist Stephen Myers is a meaty role and Gosling’s performance is grade A perfect. Meanwhile, I’m just not sure what to think about Clooney’s performance. I can’t tell if it’s the way the character was written or portrayed that was the problem. I’m inclined to think it was both. Clooney’s character felt like a mash up of similar characters from other films. I had expected Clooney’s character, a charismatic chap running for president, to be a tad more unlikable. I wonder what that says about me?