In order to review The Ides of March, I first have to convey my continuing fascination with Ryan Gosling. Admittedly, the first time I saw this guy was in The Notebook. Like DiCaprio in Titanic, I chalked it up to just another male heartthrob in one of the many chick flicks I have seen. While watching The Notebook, I recognized Gosling’s talent. I saw it, smoldering under the surface and only spilling out so often in that role. However, as soon as the movie ended, I dismissed it as talent that was wasted. Girls would fall in love with him, and he would coast through Hollywood on romantic roles from here on out.
However, like DiCaprio, Gosling surprised me later on. I watched him in a few one off movies where he wasn’t necessarily the star and his name on the posters was basically just used to lure in a female audience. Again, I saw talent in these roles, but it was talent that was reined in by the nature of the roles he was playing. And then I saw Half Nelson. For some reason, I feel that much can be said about an actor’s acting ability when they are given the role of some sort of drug addict. But Gosling’s role in Half Nelson was not your typical crack addict. He played a man that served as an inspiration to his under privileged students while simultaneously being completely uninspirational outside of the classroom. Gosling’s performance in Half Nelson won him notice by many award groups. Shortly after watching Half Nelson, I saw Drive. His role as the driver was truly interesting because he had so little dialogue, and that goes for the other roles as well, that a lot of the film was carried on his sheer acting prowess. And it worked; Drive was brilliant.
In The Ides of March, Ryan Gosling is one amongst a stellar cast that includes director George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. In this role, Gosling’s charm comes through as a political media whiz, but his quiet rage that was seen in Drive also plays a heavy role in the film’s finale. The film is remarkably well acted across the board, and Gosling continues to intrigue and stun me with his ability and range as an actor. Clooney’s direction here is solid, as is the script.
Overall I felt that this film was solid entertainment, but nothing that was too special. It may get Academy notice, simply due to the actors in it and the themes employed. It’s based on a play, Farragut North, and although I have not personally seen the production, I have heard that the film takes a darker tone than the play. This is evident throughout; this is a film about dirty politics with ambiguous morality amongst many of its characters. It is also about betrayal, which is probably where the title comes from. The only thing I’m not sure as to whether or not I liked about the film was the ending. Ambiguous endings seem to be in vogue in Hollywood, and I generally feel that this is a trope of the theater based on the plays that I have seen. I could be completely off-base about this, but since The Ides of March is based on a play, I am willing to allow the ending to slide because of it.