Director: George Clooney
Cast: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Max Minghella
RunTime: 1 hr 41 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language)
Official Website: http://www.idesofmarch-movie.com/
Opening Day: 3 November 2011
Synopsis: Stephen is a wunderkind press secretary who has built a career that men twice his age would envy. During a tight presidential primary race, however, Stephen's meteoric rise falls prey to the backroom politics of more seasoned operatives, and his one night stand with a teenage staffer proves to be more complicated than casual. Farragut North is a classic tale of hubris set against a contemporary landscape - about the lust for power and the costs one will endure to achieve it.
It is quite clear, isn’t it? That this American political drama thriller film is an Oscar bait that will bag a few nominations at next year’s Academy Awards. If the story of an idealistic campaign manager for a presidential candidate getting a lowdown on dirty politics isn’t enough to hook the folks behind the prestigious awards, the stars headlining this movie will.
The ensemble cast is made up of stars who have either won, or been nominated for an Oscar. Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson) plays the optimistic staffer running a campaign for George Clooney’s (Syriana) Democratic presidential candidate. The senior campaign manager portrayed by Capote’s (2005) Phillip Seymour Hoffman goes head on with Cinderella Man’s (2006) Paul Giamatti. Elsewhere, there is a nosey New York Times reporter played by Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) to make the political drama more interesting. Other familiar faces include Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood, who take on the roles of a senator and a sexy intern respectively.
Based on Beau Williamson’s 2008 play Farragut North, this adaptation sees Gosling’s central character experiencing a roller coaster ride of twists and turns as a political scandal threatens to upset a campaign he once strongly believed in. With conspiracy themes and sneaky plots abound, this 101 minute film will go down well with viewers who get a kick out of dramas which uncover politics’ deepest and darkest secrets.
After Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), Good Night, and Good Luck (2005) and Leatherheads (2008), Clooney’s sure handed direction is evident in his fourth feature film effort. Because this screenplay is based on a stage play, there isn’t much visual flair to entice the audience. However, Phedon Papamichael’s (3:10 to Yuma, The Pursuit of Happyness) cinematography is engaging enough to have you paying attention to what’s happening on screen. Complemented by Stephen Morrione’s (Biutiful, The Informant!) crisp editing and Alexandre Desplat’s (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, The King’s Speech) aptly tense score, the production values of this highly recommended movie is top notch.
Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible by the perfect ensemble which the filmmakers have gathered for this otherwise atypical political drama. Gosling once again proves that he is the star to look out for with his seamless portrayal of an idealistic man who gradually realises the filth he is involved in. Clooney doesn’t provide much surprise here, with his signature suave image (nicely fitted suit and all) as the presidential candidate with a secret to hide.
Seymour Hoffman and Giamatti are wonderfully unassuming in the movie, playing campaign managers from opposite camps. Tomei is also unexpectedly commendable here (come on, which one of you out there actually think she deserved that Best Supporting Actress Oscar statuette?), especially when she has limited screen time as the inquisitively curious writer. Also, watch out for Rachel Wood’s seductive performance as the intern who changes the political game.
While this may not be the cleverest political movie you’ve seen, its heavyweight cast and solid performances are enough to grip your senses from start to finish. When the film ends with an expectedly dark tone, you’d be suitably impressed with Clooney’s sleek production, and begin to predict which categories this dark drama would be nominated in at the upcoming Academy Awards.
(A sleek political drama which boasts of a solid cast and perfect performances)
Review by John Li