Friday, October 14, 2011

Doubtful at the Movies

Last night I saw IDES OF MARCH, the new movie of political machinations during a primary campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. George Clooney is the candidate, Philip Seymour Hoffman his campaign manager, and Ryan Gosling is Hoffman's gifted subordinate. Gosling begins as an idealist and -- because that's the way these films go -- loses his idealism by the end. Nobody else had any to begin with.

And therein lies the problem. IDES OF MARCH is absorbing throughout; the actors are all very good; there are some arresting visuals. However, everybody here is willing to sell out everybody else, friend or foe, not merely for the good of the campaign but to improve their own position in the campaign hierarchy. No trick is too dirty, no betrayal too profound, no friend more important than one's own importance. It gets to be Too Much.

Yes, I believe that politics can be a nasty business. The good-hearted crew on TV show WEST WING, which I adored, is probably too good to be true. But a film can also be too nasty to be true, in that it presents a lop-sided picture of reality. I enjoyed IDES OF MARCH (gazing at George Clooney's eyelashes alone is worth the ticket price), but I ended up not believing it. See it and decide for yourself.


Robert Mitchell Evans said...

Sounds like one fo those situations where the write have confused cynacism with wusdom.

A.R.Yngve said...

What really ruins my suspension of disbelief is that movie politicians are much cleverer than real-life politicians, who are often quite dumb.

(It's just like the way movies portray criminals -- far too many diabolical masterminds, and far too few morons.)

Dave Creek said...

I believed THE IDES OF MARCH, and recognize that most politicians have sold themselves out to the special interests that pay for their campaigns.

If you don't win the election, you don't have a chance to help people and try to change the world for the better.

I loved THE WEST WING, but I always saw it taking place in this alternate universe where the idealized politicians of our imagination actually existed.

I could also point to a great many WEST WING episodes that were much better than IDES OF MARCH. I thought it was well acted, Clooney did a great job of directing, but I didn't think I learned anything I didn't already know.

It's kinda like when I see trailers for most crime dramas -- is it going to be better than a typical LAW & ORDER episode, just with more shooting and things blowing up?

Unknown said...

Thanks for the refreshing post. I think you have a good point. Most people in politics are evil or completely selfish with no redeeming qualities. In fact, most really probably do want to help those they serve.