How does you go about making politics exciting? The stacks of paperwork, the tangled legal protocols, the lengthy meetings between dignitaries, the endless handshakes: it doesn’t initially seem like an environment well-suited to the silver screen.
Yet it’s endured. Politics has been made entertaining, whether by making it funny (In The Loop) or by basing it on history (Thirteen Days, All The President’s Men) or by analysing one of its key figures (JFK, Charlie Wilson’s War).
The last decade has caused a resurgence in such filmmaking, the likes of Frost/Nixon and Good Night, And Good Luck attracting rave reviews. The latter of these two was George Clooney’s second feature film as a director. The Ides of March is his fourth.
Telling the story of a fictional presidential run, that of Clooney’s Governor Mike Morris, it posits itself as a think-piece handling the mechanics of democracy, both the noble and the shady. Told from the viewpoint of Ryan Gosling’s Stephen Myers, an idealistic young Morris staffer, The Ides of March looks to peel away the layers of subterfuge and posturing which often act as a smokescreen in election campaigns, focusing instead on the dodgy dealings going on outside the public eye.
Clooney, so awash with natural charisma it’s amazing he’s not actually running for president, seems perfect for such a film, which should look to exploit both his charm and his slyness as the situation requires. How Clooney handles his camera should also prove intriguing, especially given that his cast is so stellar.
Alongside Gosling (who seems to be in everything at the moment) are Philip Seymour Hoffman as grizzled political veteran Paul Zara, Evan Rachel Wood as intern Molly Stearns, Paul Giamatti as rival campaign manager Tom Duffy and Marisa Tomei as reporter Ida Horowicz.
With such a group of acting heavyweights involved, and Clooney looking to further his young directorial career, The Ides of March looks not only to be a fascinating proposition, but perhaps also an Oscar contender. The proof will be in the politicking.
The Ides of March is released on October 7th in the USA and October 28th in the UK.