I knew waking up this morning that I'd have to squeeze in a few reactions on "The Ides of March" before heading off to another class. I only got to a few, but the immediate feeling was that my gut-response to the trailer was right. Solid, but unabsorbing, political thriller that doesn't quite know what cynicism is. Then I sat down to my theater class, went for some breakfast, and two hours later I came back to the net to find the rest of the reviews. I had expected the brief bout of disappointment to drift away in later reviews, with the optimistic masses rising in acclaim of the film. Not the case.
I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, because most of these reviews are positive enough. There's a lot of *** and B's being passed out, but not insane adoration. It's funny, because I expected that it wouldn't live up to the hype, but I thought it would still be a Best Picture play. Has that ship already sailed? Not necessarily. It's always a good idea to wait to for the full release, but word from the premiere will be a hard enemy to overcome. Here are a few of the reviews fresh from Venice. If nothing else, the festival is finally underway!
David Gritten (The Telegraph; **** out of 5): "...Despite Clooney’s multi-tasking presence, Gosling takes the on-screen honours. There is a stillness and certainty about his acting, a commanding ability to convey complex emotions in the flicker of an eye. No surprise, then, that he is currently Hollywood’s most sought after young lead. If there’s one problem with 'The Ides of March', it’s that its ending feels too neat, ingenious and labyrinthine for the essentially realistic story that precedes it. Still, the film has laid down an early marker for this festival, and will do nothing to dent the two-way love affair between George Clooney and Venice."
Oliver Lyttelton (The Playlist): "Gosling, incidentally, caps off an extraordinary twelve months with another top turn. It really is his show, the film’s riffing on idealism really a feint for a picture about the loss of a soul. Maybe it happens a little fast, but, like Michael Corleone, Stephen is defeated by the business, a virtual robot at the end. We say virtual, because Gosling’s chilly surface still reveals a hint of the regret that will clearly haunt the character forever."
Guy Lodge (In Contention; *** out of 4): "The duel between these two ghost-men is resolved in a pleasingly terse, roundabout fashion that lends the film’s finale some genuine tang — though Clooney still can’t resist overcooking some circular ironies to the point where they aren’t ironic anymore, and Alexandre Desplat’s jittery, flute-heavy score and Phedon Papamichael’s over-underlit cinematography (Clooney’s evidently a more original stylist with a Robert Elswit by his side) crank the dramatics a little more eagerly than the script does."