“The Ides of March” addresses some of the things we already know about politics. Running an American political campaign is extremely difficult. It takes a lot out of you. The movie also brings up the question whether a candidate can win and still stay remain true to himself in the process. George Clooney directs, co-writes and stars in the movie. Clooney is a well know Democrat, so I originally thought this would not be a good movie to watch if you are a Republican. But the movie doesn’t target or really even consider Republicans. It takes place only in a Democratic primary campaign. So over the course of the movie we get to know a good deal of Democrats, and there are some ones we come to like, and ones we don’t.
30 year old Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is at the top of his game. He is handling the media strategy for Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). Morris is the Democratic presidential candidate. Morris is in a major political battle in Ohio that could be the main factor to winning the Democratic presidential nomination. When the opposing candidate’s campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) tells Stephen he should come work for him, Stephen decides not to tell his boss Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman). At the same moment that is revealed Stephen finds out a dirty secret that could sink Morris’ political career.
The acting is phenomenal from everyone. Ryan Gosling delivers yet another fine performance this year. He was also in Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Drive this year. He gets to play the most developed character, and he plays him with subtle complexly. Reminded me of his performance in Drive. Clooney is overstated in most of his scenes, but he is still good. Marisa Tomie, Jeffrey Wright, and Evan Rachel Wood turn in great performances as well. Hoffman and Giamatti steal the show though. This may because they are given the juiciest dialog. Hoffman has a great scene with Gosling where he gives a speech on honesty.“It’s the only currency you can count on in politics.” he says. That was one of the best scenes in the entire movie. There were so many great actors in this, and they all hit it out of the park.
The movie has two parts to it. The first part of the movie is basically just politics. The dialogue and plotting are first rate, and if you enjoy politics, then you will absolutely love the first part. It is everything that happens behind the scenes. The second act is the thriller part. There is a twist, and it changes tone. I am not saying the second act is bad though. It ramps up the speed and becomes exciting, but it does that without putting action scenes just for sake of their being some action. There are no shoot outs here. I always admire a movie that can do this well. Thoses two asepcts coencide extrmely well. Nothing ever felt forced, everyhting gelled together. Yuo never just think like
The script was a near masterpice. It could have used a bit of twekaing here and there, but it still dives into so many great elements It really helps though that the actors say there lines with such ferocity that it can feel very real at times. I was worried about the campaign speeches, but they are well written. This is Clooney’s fourth movie as a director, while he can still improve in some places, he is starting to find his own voice. I was unaware that this was based off of a play, in a way it is sort of staged like a play. If I were nitpicking, there was one small thing that kept on happening. Clooney gets close ups on Gosling and Wood, sometimes I would wish he would have pulled it back just a little bit at times. The weakest thing about “The Ides of March” is it doesn’t really have anything to say about the political questions of 2011. Clooney did hint in an interview that this movie would be a commentary on liberal disappointment. But you won’t get any of that in this movie. You still get a pretty honest look at what politics are.
As political thrillers go this is one of the best I have seen in a long time. It’s highley inteligent, great sotry, honest look into politics, creates drama without the use use of action, many thems explored. It doesn’t hurt that the acting is top motch either.