Movie review: The Ides of March
5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Political Drama
Opens locally Friday, October 7th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright
Directed by George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck, Leatherheads)
“The Ides of March” had my expectations very high even before the movie began, just look above at the all-star cast. With Clooney directing such heavy-hitters, I was prepared for the well-known liberal to give us something great, after showing he’s clearly got the chops for directing with 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck.” With “The Ides of March,” there was no disappointment…this intriguing and revealing political drama is one of the best films of the year. Just make sure you go in ready to pay attention.
Ryan Gosling is Stephen Myers, the ideal press secretary and political strategist working in the campaign for sitting Gov. Mike Morris (Clooney), who is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The Ohio primary is nearing, and Gov. Morris is in a tight-race with his opponent, Senator Pullman. As Ohio goes, so does the nomination, so the winner of this very crucial election will most likely become the next President. Gosling’s character is 2nd banana to only Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who is Morris’s campaign manager. We soon meet the young and attractive intern for Gov. Morris, played by Evan Rachel Wood, and we know immediately that there will be some kind of trouble…hot interns seem to be the forbidden fruit of Washington, ruining many a politicians career and reputation.
When Myers takes a seemingly harmless meeting with the opposing campaign manager for Sen. Pullman (Paul Giamatti), things begin to unravel as only they can in politics. Also caught up in the fun is a hard-nosed political reporter (Marisa Tomei), and another influential Senator (Jeffrey Wright) who may control the swing votes needed to win the election.
Like an intricate web, there are layers upon layers of deceit and betrayal involving everyone present. Gov. Morris is the Democratic politician that Clooney and probably most liberals wish was running…a left-wing-minded candidate who fights as hard as a Republican for what he believes. Myers is in politics for the right reasons, and works for Morris because he believes in him. Everyone has an agenda, and the film plays out as a brilliant balance between what is right and what is needed to get done in order to win.
The title “The Ides of March” is from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the most famous political back-stab of them all. It is a game of chess, where all the players feel they should be king. Of course, several are pawns in a much larger game.
It has amazing performances, notably from Giamatti, Gosling, Hoffman, and Wood, and is a window into the back lot of a political campaign where it’s more important to win than to stand for something. In the end, each character makes a compromise of character that they must live with. When Marisa Tomei’s reporter laughingly says to Gosling, “you thought I was your friend?” she encapsulates the true nature of current politics…that nobody is what they seem, unless of course, it aligns with their motives.
“The Ides of March” is one of the most complete films of 2011, and one of the best, exceeding my already high expectations that I had going in.
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