April 23, 2014

“The Ides of March” reviews from Venice – AWARDS ALLEY


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: George Clooney’s anticipated “The Ides of March” opens the 68th annual Venice Film Festival today, and reviews for the political drama are starting to reach the Web ahead of the festival screening.

Based on Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North,” Clooney’s film follows an up-and-coming political analyst (Ryan Gosling) caught between warring candidates at a crucial campaign stop. Clooney directs and stars, surrounding himself with solid character actors Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright.

David Gritten of the UK Telegraph gives “Ides” four stars out of five, calling the film “a smart, confident kick start to what looks like being a notably strong Venice film festival.” He adds that Clooney’s film “is also lifted by some barnstorming performances in support roles.”

His colleague at the Guardian is slightly less impressed. Xan Brooks writes that the “handsome, solid campaign thriller paints its primary colours in darkening shades of grey.” But Brooks says that while “Ides” is “tense and involving,” he feels there might have been stronger options for the festival’s Opening Night slot.

More praise came from Derek Malcolm of The Evening Standard, who says in his 4-out-of-5-star review that Clooney’s film “has it all.”

But these are in direct contrast to a negative review that was submitted by British critic Tom Shone, which had to be pulled due to review embargoes. IndieWire says that Shone wrote, “Whether you buy the rest of the movie will depend largely on whether you believe: a) the American public would elect an atheist to the white house; b) Cincinnati residents will ever forgive Clooney for portraying their city as a greying, washed-out dump and c) audiences want to see inspirational political candidates exposed as lying, immoral scumbags. This may get some takers, certainly more than in 2008 when the film was first penned, but the cynicism felt a little rote to me — and more importantly, it seems to give Clooney no joy.”

I’m still dying to see Clooney’s “Ides” in Toronto, and am thankful it is a Thursday screening at TIFF.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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