When you consider that he’s most successful relying on his big smile in popcorn fodder like the Ocean’s movies it still seems odd that George Clooney so frequently works with more serious political material. Films like Syriana, which he exec produced and earned him his first Oscar, have a serious subject and his hugely impressive, and nominated, directorial efforts for Good Night and Good Luck demonstrate that he’s comfortable showing his political colours.
Having not caught it at the time of its release I’ve just watched The Ides of March which, though I’d missed it live, was available on BBC iPlayer. Though it’s a political setting, the theme is more House of Cards (understandably) than war zone critique.
Rather topically, as a Governor running for the Democratic presidential nomination, Clooney plays Mike Morris as a dashing, liberal and above all, electable character. Ryan Gosling is his evangelical media manager who has his idealism challenged as the politics get dirty.
With a track record of impressive script work with producing partner Grant Heslov, Clooney here has source material and a co-writer with true House of Cards credentials in Beau Willimon. Together they may not hit the high watermark of Good Night and Good Luck but this at least gives the ever great Philip Seymour Hoffman a few scenes to deliver intelligent dialogue in a way only he could. He’s such a loss to every director trying to make a movie like this from now on.
It’s admirable that a few Hollywood stars attempt to make projects that express who they are as a person and so far the output has been good. I liked the fact that this one ended on such an ambiguous note with the lead character aiming his gaze directly down the lens at us, leaving us uncertain about the words he may be about to utter.
There aren’t many intelligent people in Hollywood but I like the way some of them are eloquent enough to get it down on paper, and then film it.