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October 17, 2011


I agree and find this an excellent take on the film. But this seems off to me:

"Alone in her hotel room after the procedure, Molly kills herself by overdosing on painkillers and alcohol--either because she is worried that her affairs with both men will ruin their careers and the Democratic Party's chance to regain the White House or, perhaps because she is intentionally exacting revenge on the men who've wronged her."

First, the reason Molly can't turn to her father for the abortion money is that they're Catholic, so she wants to keep it a secret. Then, she hears the voice mail message that Gosling's character said that he was going to take down the campaign, and take down Mike Morris. This obviously suggests to Molly that Gosling is going to reveal the affair and abortion (in order to take down Morris), and, since we know the abortion being revealed would be a source of great shame for her and her family, that is why she commits suicide.

I wouldn't be so certain if she didn't have such a visible reaction to the part of the message that said that Gosling told P.S. Hoffman that he was gong to "take down" Morris, and if she didn't kill herself right after that.

After I wrote the post, I had a similar thought about why she might have killed herself, re: Catholic guilt. I still find the whole suicide thing implausible for a character portrayed as so savvy and sexually mature.

Nice review Dana. I also did find the Molly character problematic, and her suicide a really weak point in the story, even in light of the Catholic angle. It seemed she was much too empowered and independent-minded to kill herself at all, much less before she knew for sure if the Gosling character was really going to use her situation to expose Morris.

I also thought another weak point around this was that it's rather unlikely that in the aftermath of such a suicide by a pretty young well-connected staffer, that there wouldn't be an investigation that would expose the whole matter, despite the Gosling character's manipulations. At least I don't feel the ensuing investigation aspect of it was dealt with realistically.

I feel your comments on the role of women in the film were right on -- both about problematic suggestions of punishment for promiscuity, and post-abortion syndrome.

Overall, however, I actually can applaud Clooney for his explorations of this modern archetype of the 'fixer' -- of the people in power who try to make the truth go away. It was there in this film, Syriana, and Michael Clayton. I'm glad he's putting this into the popular consciousness, and in the process, calling journalists to task, and the general public to question our faith in mediated representations of the truth.

I completely agree with you on Molly. The suicide did not make sense to me either, and was not consistent with the way she behaved before her death.

However I have a different take on what the film would say about politics in relation to Clooney's character. Actually precisely because I agree with you about what you say about his character and what it says about his political position. It's just that I don't think that the movie says it's different from that, as you suggest. My take is that you're wrong to think of the movie to be about Clooney's character, even though Clooney is the biggest star in the movie. Rather he's a side figure. It's also obvious form the fact that his character is really shallow and bland in the movie. This movie is really about Gosling's character and his development from a convicted idealist to a cynical player. It's not Morris that loses his soul, it's Meyers. And I don't think the final scene suggests anything about what Meyers thinks of Morris, but rather about himself.

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