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Bad Ides


George Clooney has directed another film.  The Ides of March, based on an American play about the men (and they are men, alas) who run political campaigns, and the grubby deals they do, is by far the most over-rated film of 2011.  Don't get me wrong, it has a dream cast, including my favourite rising star, Ryan Gosling, and the Humpty-Dumpty of character-actor sad-sackdom Oscar royalty, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti.  The plot is lacking, for me, valid revelationary power, or any credibility historically.  One recalls the scene in Casablanca, where the astounded police chief feigns surprise at discovering gambling in his favourite den.  On what planet do innocent young men working as "the best media mind in politics" not know that Democratic politicians, especially handsome ones, sleep with women on the campaign trail.  Do the names Kennedy, Clinton, or Edwards not mean anything?

Indeed, so vanilla is the supposed dalliance that the Clooney character has engaged in, relatively speaking (he has cheated on his wife with a beautiful, intelligent 20-year-old intern and she has become pregnant - this is not Watergate) that it seems astonishing this could be seriously held against him by one of his key allies.  Nor is it, for a minute, believable that said young woman would, weeks into her pregnancy, be unable to secure the $900 for an abortion, and need to get it from the Governor-father; nor is it likely she would be likely to enter another romantic entanglement (with Gosling) while still courting Clooney; one minute, she is a sexy, empowered predator, the next, she is a suicide case (for an unclear reason).

Nor is it likely that Gosling, a mastermind, could be so easily ensnared in such a flimsy web.  The way in which these hardened campaigners, masters of the dark arts of spin, manage to destroy themselves over a weekend, running from one bespectacled New York Times reporter, is laughable.  Clooney is unsubtle, also, in his mis-en-scene.  Scenes of bowed heads in silhouette, framed by massive American flags, may summon up a false sense of patriotism, or may be merely visually portentous.  I'd vote with my feet, and avoid this one.
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