Saturday, November 12, 2011

'Idles of March' is a Old Fashioned Politicial Drama

Three Stars

Political scandals are a dime a dozen, and make good fodder for movies. George Clooney’s “Idles of March” isn’t the best political movie. It’s a straight forward drama that doesn’t really rise above a made for TV movie, but it’s well made and well-acted. It starts with a young campaign worker named Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), who believes in his candidate. Mike Morris (George Clooney) is a solid candidate on the Democratic side who looks like he might be president. He appears to be a clean cut family man who believes in the playbook of center left politics. The campaign manager Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) comes off like an old pro. The other campaign manager Tom (Paul Giamatti) is also a pro at this kind of thing. In a way, “Idles of March” is an old fashioned, straight forward political drama. I think there’s enough here to keep you interested. I kept saying “Uh-oh” as the scandals got deeper and deeper throughout the film. I have to say that Stephen isn’t really the sharpest tool in the shed. Sure, he knows his way around politics, but does make the mistake of sleeping with the unpaid intern, a pretty girl in her early twenties named Molly (Rachael Evan Wood). Golden rule of politics. Never sleep with the intern.

Well, I guess that Stephen can be forgiven. After all, while older than the intern, they are both basically young adults. The problem arises when the cell phone goes off at two in the morning. Stephen picks up. Why is the senator running for president calling the intern at like two in the morning? Uh-oh. That’s when the scandal starts to get out of hand. Ryan Gosling really is a likable actor, so we want his character to do the right thing. No such luck, really. He’s still a political guy, and ends up blackmailing the senator to move up in his campaign. I kept saying uh-oh throughout the movie, as things got deeper and deeper. Though, I also kept thinking of really great political films like “Primary Colors” or “The Candidate”. I mean, maybe I’m expecting too much. This is a uh-oh kind of film. Politics plays a large role throughout the picture.

George Clooney being the bad guy is a bit odd, but then again, the film is about politics. I kept going “uh-oh” throughout the movie. Things got deeper and deeper. This is a dialogue heavy film. A lot of scenes of people talking in hotel rooms and dark rooms. Cars driving up. Scandals. It’s not that different than real politics. I guess asking for Jed Bartlett is too much. Things aren’t going well, as Stephen gets deeper and deeper in the political scandal surrounding what appears to be a pretty good candidate. Heck, I probably vote for this guy. That being said, ‘Idles of March’ is a well-acted and decent drama. I suppose that Stephen is a bit chilling as a guy who instead of doing the right thing, uses what’s going on to help himself move up politically in the campaign.

Based on the play by Beau Willimon, ‘Idles of March’ feels like a play. A lot of scenes of people talking and dark rooms. I suppose that’s real politics too. This isn’t a great political film, but not a bad one. My brother, who’s a political junkie, said that the film got politics totally right. I’m not disagreeing with that. As someone who’s seen a lot of politics, though, I wouldn’t say this is a great political film. It’s a good political film. The screenplay ties together the personal and political sides of the people involved. It doesn’t tell us anything new about politics. Not every film needs to tell us something new. Neither did “Primary Colors” one of my favorite political films. The performances are all good, and George Clooney isn’t a bad director. He did make the wonderful "Goodnight and Goodluck". We get some cameos by people from real cable shows (like John King of CNN or Rachel Maddow of MSNBC). I think Larry King has had the most cameos in movies, of all the cable guys. The senator here goes on Charlie Rose. I’ve always liked PBS, so probably I be more likely to vote for a guy on Charlie Rose.