October 10, 2011
Review - " The Ides of March " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Ides of March
Diected by: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright
Wow! This has to be one of the most cynical movies about politics ever
made. And for me, one of the best. If you have a shred of idealism left,
you may find this film discouraging. And it was very clever to set this
movie solely within the Democratic Party so as not to confuse the film
with party differences.
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is press secretary for Pennsylvania
Governor, Mike Morris (Clooney) who is making a bid for the
Democratic nod for President. In the battleground state of Ohio, the
situation looks good if the Morris machine can knock off their closest
competitor, Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell), an Arkansas Senator
whose campaign is run by Tom Duffy (Giamatti).
But this movie is more about the backroom wheeling and dealing than
the upfront candidates for much of the film. And highly skilled acting
from Philip Seynour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti as counterparts in the
election do much to make us believe that politics is a pretty dirty place.
Scenes that at first seem superfluous, eventually come full circle to be
crucial to the plot.
Early on, Gosling makes a mistake that is likely to cost him his job. But
before this can fully play out, he’s handed information that might save
him from ruin. Although these men talk about honor and loyalty quite a
bit, they seldom practice it. You’d like to think their liberal ideology
comes first, but really it’s their access to power and their own career
they value. And Marissa Tomei (strangely the only media present) reminds us of exactly the power the media wields today.
Everything happens around five people within the world of this democratic primary. There's dirt that can bring team Gosling
(campaign secretary) and Clooney (candidate) down. But who will it be pinned on? Evan Rachel Wood (beautiful and brilliant
intern), Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti (grizzled electoral gurus) all give outstanding performances as the pieces
on the chessboard.
It comes down to a simple game of musical chairs.
Someone has to take the fall. It makes us wonder
about those who have come through this
pressure-cooker environment unscathed. Who did
they tread on? With sex, threats and blackmail
triggering the scripts final convulsions, it all comes
down to one scene: a masterful verbal duel between
Gosling and Clooney that will have audiences
As the screw turns, our man is threatened on all sides
and the merciless electoral world is illustrated like
never before. The tension is built with excellent pacing
and the performances are powerful. Determined not to
be an actor known solely for his looks, Clooney gives
us another film of substance. Highly recommended.