Movie Review: The Ides of March

All film works best when it reflects reality to the point where we rethink the image. This is exactly what The Ides of March does to the political policy. Aptly named the film acts as a foresight into the demise of our own political system. One can only hope that the Ides will come without 23 reasons to remember them, but rather than reflect on the death of our system The Ides of March acts more as a dream and a warning of things to come.

Directed, starring, and co-written by George Clooney The Ides of March is the story of Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) a fairy tale presidential candidate that is in a heated primary race with an average Democrat. Coming off like a modern day JFK, Morris is the candidate that every democrat has been waiting for. While Morris holds his policy in high regard he soon sees the line he said he would never cross become ever more transparent. This alone would make an engaging story, but there are two faces on The Ides of March‘s cleverly designed poster. The other side of this story lays with Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) a hot shot campaign manager that is learning as fast as Morris that your morals are the first thing to go when your feet hit the campaign trail.

While scandal gives the film it’s more dramatic conclusion, it’s in the beginning that the film makes its more poignant observations; showing a candidate that ignores religion, banishes a reliance of fossil fuel, and could challenge Michael Moore to find a more liberal view. Taking all this in like a child hearing about Santa Claus for the first time, I must admit that Clooney has created a character that most would dream to vote for. Though this credit must go to Clooney’s performance, it’s hard to believe given his out spoken political views, that the character was much of a stretch for Clooney to play.  Either way he has given a performance as Morris that makes you wish you weren’t watching a fairy tale and yet the reality of our future. If that doesn’t tell you how talented Clooney is in The Ides of March then I don’t know what would.

Ending the conversation on Clooney with his role in the film would be falling a bit short as his ability as the film’s Director deserves just as much recognition. Keeping the film moving at a pace that never allows us to exit its story for gasps of reality was a challenge well executed. While the film never reaches a peak of suspense it manages to deliver a feeling of intrigue that is a constant to the very end. This challenge alone shows that Clooney has the ability to control every aspect of a film, and when he has a story to tell it’s always in our best interest to give him our full attention.

Like most films this year The Ides of March stars Ryan Gosling while most believe him to be an odd leading man based on his looks, I refuse to take part in the conversation. I base all my evaluation of an actor solely on their ability and there isn’t anyone who is coming close to Gosling right now. The Ides of March being his third film of the sober 2011 movie season, he sure does go out with a bang. In The Ides of March Gosling plays Stephen Myers taking the campaign manager through the life, death, and rebirth of his own political career. Like Morris, Myers is hopeful and energetic in the beginning, but after a fleeting moment that could lead to the demise of his career Myers falls right in the mud with the rest of American politics. For some this drastic transformation may be shocking but for me it was more true to life. We all find out who we really are when our backs are against the wall and I think Gosling portrays this perfectly. He never has that moment where you sympathize with his decision to betray his friends, he just acts. Thinking on his feet is what makes the situation more believable and portrays the loss of an idealistic political candidate to a T.  Again like in Drive Gosling is forced to show this entire inner dialogue without pages of narrative, wearing his emotions on his sleeve. In this case there aren’t many faces in Hollywood that can do it as well as Gosling though I think he will be remembered for Drive his performance in The Ides of March should not be forgotten.

Usually I hold back and force myself to only talk about two performances in a film, but in this case that would be impossible. Not mentioning Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is like critical blasphemy. They both are amongst the best of the best and in The Ides of March they show that they are once again still ahead of the curve. Watching Hoffman and Giamatti is acting 101 as there are no better examples of how it should be done. Both have the ability to take a patch of dialogue and turn it into the basis for the entire film. Saying they were good will be an understatement as they will both most likely be competing for awards for their performances in this film.

The Ides of March could be split into two separate films the first being an insight into the idea of what politics could be. The other side a political thriller that steps more into the reality of what the state of politics really is leaving the resounding statement of whatever you do, “You never fuck the interns” ringing through your head. The film never lost my attention and was always pulling on my political heart strings; it just never reached up and grabbed that greatness it was striving for. That is not to say the film isn’t good and does not deserve your attention, it does. Like most political candidates of late The Ides of March is a good film, it’s just not the great film I was hoping it would be.

 

I give The Ides of March 4 “political Easter bunnies” out of 5

by Ryan Davis

 

About Ryan Davis

Ryan is the Founder of Lost in Reviews, a member of The Kansas City Film Critic's Circle, and a key component in the movement to digitally restore the 1986 classic film The Gate. Ryan is also the co-host of Blu Monday a DVD and Blu Ray review show which Lost in Reviews co-founder Angela Davis also appears. While he may be a film and music snob, that doesn't mean you can't be friends. Well it could if you don't like the same bands or films he does, overall it might be best to avoid the subject all together.

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