Ides of March
Is The Ides of March
the first movie of 2011 to disappoint its way out of the Oscar race?
Ryan Gosling stars as Stephen Myers - a hot shot political operative
working for his dream candidate, Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney).
The Governor is locked in a heated presidential primary battle in Ohio
with a southern senator, and the winner likely is to go on to become
the Democrats nominee.
Just as the campaign's director, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman),
heads out of the state in an attempt to secure a major endorsement,
Stephen receives an invitation to meet with the rival campaign's
director, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). He shouldn't do it, but, when he
does, the meeting changes everything for Stephen and the campaign.
Is Stephen ready for the revelations and events that are coming?
The Ides of
March is one of those movies
that might suffer from the expectations game. On the surface, it feels
like the movie will be a huge political thriller with intense exchanges
between the characters, all sorts of twists and turns that throw the
election into the balance and more. That would be a more traditional,
mainstream way to make this movie.
While the audience gets some of that, The
Ides of March is not really a
political thriller, which puts it into the category of acquired taste.
It's a solid story about power, taking it, using it, having it, and
Plus, it is a story about going from idealistic to jaded. In that
sense, it's a coming of age story or borderline character study, which
loses some of its punch because we know Stephen has been around enough
to have learned the lessons he supposedly learns here.
Overall, The Ides of March
is good, but not spectacular. Written by Clooney (who also directed),
Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon (who wrote the original play, Farragut
North), the movie doesn't have any truly memorable, shocking,
dialogue, which I would expect from something adapted from a theatrical
Much like the rest of the movie, it's not horribly written, but it's
not amazing, when you can see where amazing is possible. These are
interesting, complicated characters with fantastic actors in every
role, but none of them gets something mindblowing to do.
As director, Clooney needs to pick up the pace a bit. Granted, the
script needs more detail and dialogue (we need to know more about these
characters, where they came from, how the campaign developed), but The
Ides of March feels like it is floating along without the drama and
urgency of a primary battle.
Plus, all of the Barack Obama imagery is distracting. Much of the
Governor Morris campaign paraphernalia mimics President Obama's
(especially the iconic Hope poster). Seeing one makes you giggle and
get the joke, but Clooney keeps going back to it so much it takes the
audience out of the movie. Movies are alternate realities, but Clooney
keeps trying to remind us we are watching a movie. Instead of sucking
us in, he is sucking us out.
The Ides of
March was supposed to be a big
time Oscar contender, but I think it might fade away like Newt
Gingrich's campaign for President.
Ides of March is rated R for pervasive language