The words “political” and “Scandal” go together just like peanut butter and jelly, peaches and cream, or Monica and Lewinski. So it was almost inevitable that our Liberal Hollywood Chick Magnet, George Clooney, should take a whack at it, and the result is “The Ides of March.”
This film is so much fun that it’s almost a must-see for us Yellow Dog Democrats and a skip-it for those dastdardly Republicans, portrayed herein as the Essence of Evil. But like the best of political movies, this one simply reminds us that Washington, regardless of party affiliation, is filled with the Bad, the Worst, and the Handsome.
Besides Clooney himself, playing an Ohio senator aspiring for the Democratic presidential candidacy, it stars Ryan Gosling as his idealistic press secretary and Philip Seymour Hoffman as his campaign manager. Wily Paul Giametti is the Other Guy’s version of Hoffman, Marisa Tomei as a newspaper columnist, and Evan Rachel Wood as an intern. (Every Washington movie’s gotta have one of them, ever since you-know-who stuck a presidential you-know-what down her you-know-where.)
Fabulous cast, really fine acting, good script (by Clooney and pals, based on a play) and a calmly-paced film just as juicy as you could imagine. I loved it, and would rank it amongst the top ten polotical films of all time – wedged in there somewhere with the whole TV series “The West Wing,” the classic Redford “The Candidate” and Altman’s masterpiece “Tanner ’88.”
The movie begins just before the Ohio primary, with Clooney and The Other Guy running neck and neck. It looks like whichever way Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Everyone runs around talking politically, being savvy, and plastering themselves with that blanket of good old American cynicism that politics has become.
Gosling is just way too idealistic, so it’s obvious he’s in for a disappointment. Every idol has clay feet, if you close enough to smell its socks. And as the double-dealings unfold. You and I are along for the ride, smug in our cozy little voting booth while thrilled to watch the machinations of the masters.
Enter Evan Rachael Wood, almost unrecognizable if you just remember her from her roles in “The Wrestler” (2008) or “Thirteen” (2003). She’s all grown up and gorgeous, in a kinda slick and political way. And she sets about to steal the movie from this galaxy of fine acting talents. She nearly succeeds.
Unfortunately, and as good as it is, “The Ides of March” opened this weekend along with a rock ’em sock ’em robot action flick, so you can just imagine which one got the box office. Nonetheless, Us Smart Folks will turn out for this addition to Clooney’s steadily expanding group of movies for grown-ups. You won’t be disappointed. This one’s a winner.
Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen