First Hit: A very good film which simply shows how a politician’s imperfection and ego leads to the illusion.
We all know that to become a politician one must have a strong ego and a somewhat thick skin.
To run for President of the United States, there are a lot of compromises one might have to make along the way. When they state they want to “serve the people”, there is also a serving of one’s ego. The people who serve these politicians do what they can to “position” their candidate in the best light possible.
We’ve seen in recent past politics, that handlers like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney serve in oddly powerful and conclusive ways.
Here, Steven Myers (played by Ryan Gosling) is the chief strategist working directly for Campaign Manager Paul Zara (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). They are both working on the campaign to elect Governor Mike Morris (played by George Clooney) for the office of President of the United States. In the other camp there is Tom Duffy (played by Paul Giamatti) who is Zara’s counterpart for the other candidate.
Duffy sees that Myers is good and is guiding Morris for a win. His job; find an opportunity to change the playing field. But Myers ends up having some political collateral of his own and he learns that politics is a nasty game and that some people talk a good game for the people, but in their own lives, things might be not as honorable.
The way this story is played out is clean, clear, uncluttered, and predictable in that I guessed the ending long before it happened. But even so, it was well done, clearly defined, and wonderfully acted. This was a tour-de-force of a number of strong actors doing a wonderful job. Although some advertisements call this film a thriller, it is not, it is a drama all the way.
Gosling is clearly present for this part. He is quick minded and his eyes reflect it. He is naïve and his eyes show it. He is strong and his eyes express it. Clooney is perfect as the smooth talking, handsome, eloquent candidate who hides his indiscretions under an uncompromising smile of slickness. The scene in the kitchen with Gosling when the deal is cut is superb and pointedly packaged. Hoffman is perfect as the guy who lives by his belief regardless of where it takes him. Giamatti is both creepy and elegant as the guy who will do what he needs to get his candidate elected. Evan Rachel Wood (as campaign intern Molly Sterns) is wonderfully captured as the smart beautiful girl who gets intoxicated by the powerful men in politics. Marisa Tomei (as news reporter Ida Horowicz) was good and especially with the turning of the tables (both times), one where she is on top and the other where she isn’t. Lastly Jeffrey Wright (as Senator Thompson) was really strong as the Senator who wanted to get the most out a selling his support by using a bidding process for the highest cabinet job possible. George Clooney and Grant Heslov wrote a very clear and strong script and Clooney did a wonderful job of directing this film.
Overall: This was a very strong Clooney effort and a wonderful film to watch.