Film Review: Clooney’s political thriller set in OhioWritten by James A. Molnar | The Gold Knight | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ohio is at the heart of George Clooney’s latest film, “The Ides of March.”
The political thriller surrounds the Ohio presidential democratic primary. Gov. Mike Morris, played by Clooney, is slightly ahead in the polls and if he can win Ohio, odds are he’ll secure the nomination. Running his campaign are the stoic Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the astute Stephen Myers, an excellent performance by Ryan Gosling.
The first hour of the movie, based on the play by Beau Willimon, is the setup and the last 40 minutes is the payoff. The campaign is working its way closer and closer to the primary and the politics are crucial. Polls have the two candidates closing in on each other and securing the nomination is in reach. At the plot’s turning point, the audience in the screening gasped. The score by Alexandre Desplat heats up with pulsating beats and the thriller moves and excites.
What’s missing is complete and utter excitement — a je ne sais quoi that would make “Ides” the best movie of the year. The last political thriller to really do that for this reviewer was last year’s “The Ghost Writer” by Roman Polanski. But what is missing in feeling is made up for with dynamic storytelling and excellent casting.
There is an insider feel to “Ides.” As director and screenplay co-writer, Clooney aimed for a powerful and serious film, not a lighthearted take on politics. Votes are traded with appointments. Staffers are blackmailed. Whether the political machine works like the plot suggests, it is intriguing to think it does.
For Hoffman’s character Zara, “loyalty is the only currency that matters” in politics. The evolution of that trait in the movie is something to watch. Myers, Gosling’s character, must learn loyalty from dedication and reality from idealism.
The ending is also spot on — not as mainstream as one might expect. Twenty minutes more could have easily been added to the movie, which was filmed in Ohio and Michigan, including Cincinnati, Detroit and Ann Arbor.
The audience is left wanting more. That’s not a bad thing. “The Ides of March” is powerful, but it could have packed a little more punch.
Rated R for pervasive language.