Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Ides of March

"All the reporters love you. Even the reporters that hate you still love you"

The Ides of March is a political thriller set during the Democratic Primary in Ohio in which Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) is running for the Party’s nomination for President. His team includes Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and young up and comer Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling). Myers is convinced that Morris is the man to lead the country but receives a tempting job offer from rival Campaign Manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) which opens up a torrent of problems for all involved.

The film is full of twists, turns and surprises and kept me glued throughout its fairly short 101 minutes. Clooney’s Morris felt like a Candidate too good to be true to me, being pro choice, atheist, pro alternative energy and with plans for free college education. He was a candidate with the sort of policies that appealed to me. To be honest, knowing what I do of American Politics, his platform felt a little unrealistic but I’d vote for him. As well as a candidate I was on board with, the film kept my interest up as I never knew which direction it would turn next. It felt like a good episode of The West Wing crossed with a crime mystery.

The ensemble cast was excellent. Clooney was every bit the Presidential Candidate but took a back seat to Ryan Gosling who is the central character. He felt a little too young for the role but that was one of the facets of his character and he seemed to nail the super intelligent, analyser which a real Campaign worker would need to be. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti got a couple of chances to spa against each other and that was a highlight. Evan Rachel Wood was also very good as an intern. She could have been swallowed up by those around her but held her own. Clooney’s direction shows great promise and I look forward to see where he goes next.

The film shows you an insight into who really runs a country and the ins and out as to how they get to their position. It’s a fascinating study of behind the scenes of Politics and had me gripped. I realise as someone with a Politics degree I might be in the minority of people who finds this stuff interesting though and my girlfriend soon turned to sorting out photos even though Ryan Gosling was on screen. As someone who follows Politics closer than some, I’d have liked the film to go a bit deeper into the process and follow some of the twists a little further but obviously the deeper it goes, the more chance it has of alienating its audience. In the end I think it trod the line well.    

Overall this is a tense and taught political drama which though offering little new was an exciting and interesting look behind the scenes and had a couple of decent twists thrown in. The cast were all excellent and the story, solid. I was gripped and you can’t ask for anything more.



  1. This is entertaining even if suspense barely builds and pay-off revelations come with little surprise. Clooney, as a director, is also able to draw-out amazing performances from this whole ensemble cast. Great review Tom.

  2. I'm not someone who is politically minded and I know precious little of the American political system, but I really enjoyed Ides of March when I saw it. Really well cast and directed. I really liked the scene when PSH finds out he is off the campaign. All we see is him get into a car, wait a while, get out, and then the car drives off; never-the-less it managed to communicate very effectively what was happening. Subtle and classy. A very enjoyable film.

    1. You're right, that was an excellent scene. It said so much without saying anything at all. Good call.

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  4. I usually stay away from political dramas but I did see this when it was in theaters, pretty much because of the steller cast. What struck me about this movie is that it should that the most idealistic candidate (represented by Clooney who was, as you mention, a middle of the road "perfect" candidate), politics are messy and you end up being pulled right down in the dirt with everyone else.

    I have heard a number of times that Gosling seemed or was too young to play the role of the deputy campaign manager, but I think that was the point. To have this "kid" that was an intellectual, cocky, and with a perspective of younger generation to challenge those that have been in the game longer ever turn. How this young guy navigated himself through the political ranks with men 10+ years older than him was the best part of the movie for me.