Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Ides of March - London Film Festival Review

I was very fortunate to be invited along to the premiere of the film at the LFF. I have taken ages to coming around and writing this review, so I reckon I'll be giving a rather brief (perhaps vague?) review of it, as its not as immediate in my mind as I would like. Let's see what Memory dredges up!

This film is a well put together, well acted piece and is commendable on many accounts. Mr. Clooney himself, when introducing the film, said it was nice to have a film like this that wasn't all explosions and insane action sequences. And George is right of course - for all of you that follow this blog regularly (you don't need to scoff!), you will know how I champion a well contained narrative and impressive acting/casting.

Don't I look sinister? But I'm a Democrat, thumbs up!

I love American politics - all the intrigue and the back-hand deals and the veneer of imperious dignity, reminiscent of Ancient Rome which the USAns love to emulate (and hence the title). The film goes through these layers and peels them back one by one - starting with idealistic but robust faith and belief displayed through Ryan Gosling character's trust and enthusiasm for the candidate he campaigns for, Governor Morris. Gosling is really quite impressive and sustains our journey through his story as he descends into the messy business of presidential campaigning, with revenge, affairs yada yada all there. Only this doesn't go crazy and though melodrama could be used as a term for the film, there is a more subdued tone - the tension is palatable in scenes but the dramatic moments are 'off stage' which presents a sort of interesting Greek tragedy feel, such as when Stephen listens to Molly's (Evan Rachel Wood) voice messages, the intern he has a fling with.

The writing is solid - nothing to find fault, for there is great balance of quick banter, measured words and comedy. In terms of pace, it's constantly engaging with just enough intrigue and you are allowed room to admire the content because it's also in the capable hands of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti - and Mr. Clooney himself, who has less screen time than you might think but makes it count. The confrontational scene between Morris and Stephen (Gosling) is in a closed kitchen of some pub/restaurant and full of shadows. It's wonderfully symbolic as we understand how dark the world has become for Stephen.

There's great observations about loyalty, the price of one's mistakes, who really pulls the strings and how one political party can be so pitted against one another within their own ranks - all very Roman. The end shot is brilliantly done and sums up the film and Clooney's directing (lots of lingering shots). I'm not going to say what it is - go watch it and find out.

Solid is a word I would use, so while I was more than satisfied with the film, I'm not sure it's a breakthrough one and stands simply as a good example of good film making.

VERDICT: 8.4/10

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