The Perfect Storm … ah … movie


Today I saw what I think must be the closest thing I’ll ever see to the perfect movie.

For many years I have said that The Full Monty was the perfect movie due to its all-encompassing nature: drama, empathy, comedy, music, dance, tears, laughter, pain and a great finale, not to mention a bunch of naked men. But today I think I found something better. Today I saw The Ides of March, with Ryan Gosling and George Clooney.

I don’t want to spoil this movie for you by telling you what happens, and I don’t want to spoil it by telling you how great it was, because you will go along expecting fireworks and you never see them where someone else does, but …

This movie is intelligent. It is no louder than it needs to be – no melodrama, no hysterics. And no annoying, overloud music over the dialogue! It is mature. It brings you the behind-the-scenes machinations of the American legal system which, as an Australian, I find quite horrifying. I know we have behind-the-scenes stuff going on here, too, and what country doesn’t, but I’m sure ours don’t cost a brass razoo in comparison with the cost of electing a US President. But I digress …

Ryan Gosling is a treat – every minor facial movement adds to his story. Clooney is, well, Clooney. His usual unfaultable self. Philip Seymour Hoffman is as Clooney – his usual unfaultable self. Marisa Tomei is gorgeous, and it’s good to see Paul Giamatti in a nice, strong role. And Evan Rachel Wood brings wonderful empathy to the final hours of her role as the dispensable Molly, the candidate’s campaign intern.

But, based on the play Farragut North, the star of this movie is the storyline, and the balancing act it performs. While watching the movie, I had the urge to pull out my phone, log into Facebook and type ‘Mike Morris for President’. I sat there thinking ‘Julia Gillard should watch this and pinch every one of his policies and she’d never have to worry about the polls again’. I mean, any country with a Mike Morris as leader just couldn’t lose. And then you find out one little thing about Mike. Just one. And you never find out if it was a one-off, or one in a long list of similar things. You never know if he’s an utter, utter bastard, or just a regular guy who made a mistake. But it taints him in your mind. 

What follows is the usual set of twists and turns that are the hallmark of a well-written character-driven movie, in this case one where two people end up shackled together as purposefully as Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones. In The Ides of March these plot turns are well thought out, well planned, and they work to bring the movie to a wonderfully satisfying conclusion where two people get what they wanted, but at what cost? Cue Carole Bayer Sager song.

I can’t stop thinking about this movie. I loved looking at the Cincinnati scenery, never having been there, and really enjoyed watching every character on the screen. In fact, nearing the end of the movie, I was dying to look at my watch in the hope that it would show there was still 20 minutes or so left, I was enjoying it that much.

Recommendation? If you haven’t worked it out by now, I’ll spell it out for you: DON’T wait until it comes out on DVD. This one is worth the cost of a cinema ticket. Or two.

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