The Ides of March
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director: George Clooney
The Hong Kong release of The Ides of March couldn't be more timely. With 2012 shaping up as polling year around the world, George Clooney's fourth directorial effort offers an opportune reflection about the moral dilemmas usually obscured by the razzmatazz of modern-day electioneering.
However, this isn't a groundbreaking film. Instead, it can be seen as Clooney's 21st century interpretation of a well-trodden narrative with elements already touched on by past entries such as The Candidate or Primary Colours.
But the film is effective in looking at the corrupting power of power itself, and how idealism can sometimes be just the preamble to a murderous zeal for, well, nothing much but a personal riposte to maimed pride.
The film's title stems from the ancient Roman moniker for the 15th day of March, the day on which Julius Caesar was killed in a coup d'etat led by his one-time confidante Marcus Junius Brutus. And The Ides of March - itself an adaptation of the play Farragut North - is more about a Brutus than a Caesar.
Central to the film, therefore, is Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling, above), a charismatic young spin doctor working on the presidential campaign of Mike Morris (played by Clooney).
At the start Meyers is shown to be trying to change things for the better in the country through his candidate.
As the film rolls on, of course, The Ides of March gradually reveals the cynicism that drives politics, as Meyers and his supervisor (Philip Seymour Hoffman) do whatever is necessary to get their man what he needs to help win the race. Meyers himself, meanwhile, faces temptation, in the form of a job offer from the rival team and romantic overtures from an intern (Evan Rachel Wood).
Inadvertently nurturing his now ever-more demanding ego by entertaining both, Meyers finds himself falling into circumstances that, somehow, parallel the circumstances his candidate would have to face, the young pup here eventually realising the real name of the game and emerging into full-fledged, bloodthirsty political animal from the saga.
With Gosling delivering a performance that reflects Meyers' anguished awakenings to the need for brutality in his line of work, the political drama marches along nicely on the campaign trail. The Ides of March is Clooney's less complicated take on what could be messier territory; however much compromised, Meyers and Morris still possess some kind of moral backbone. And it's on such personal struggles that this film could probably relate better, what with the political process seemingly more entertaining these days as they unfold on 24-hours news channels, rather than in fiction on screen.
The Ides of March opens today