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When you make a mistake, you lose the right to play.


The Ides of March
(2011)

Clooney's fourth directorial outing is easily his best since his debut (the underrated Confessions of a Dangerous Mind). If the play-based script itself doesn't really throw any new light on the political arena (and indeed, Ryan Gosling's press secretary might be argued to be too much of a throwback in remaining so naive to the realities of political life for so long), the wattage of the performances makes for rivetting viewing.

Clooney's direction supports this, unobtrusive and incredibly assured. Gosling anchors the film with the simmering intensity you've come to expect from him, and his opposing peers Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman are equals and opposites. As for Clooney, he may have been reluctant to cast himself, but the Mr Easy Charisma is perfect as the less than perfect presidential candidate. And there's mileage in seeing Clooney the actor as the democratic politician pushing policies no actual democrat would dare to voice.

Porcelain beauty Evan Rachel Wood already has acting experience well beyond her years, which makes her "junior" role (the trigger for dramatic events) slightly beneath her, but she gives a performance of conviction greater than the part deserves. Jennifer Ehle, as Clooney's wife, is only a minor player, but it's just good to see her increasing presence on the big screen of late (The King's SpeechThe Adjustment Bureau); she must have a decent agent suddenly. I'm not sure how this will stand the test of time; it has the loss of ideals quality that the superior The Candidate also does, but without that strong sense of the period in which it's made. But it's a fairly smart film, and worth seeing.

****

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