The Ides of March--A Robwrite review

The Ides of March (3 stars out of 5)

With another Presidential election season upon us, politics are not only on the front page but also on the big screen in the form of George Clooney's new political drama The Ides of March. Based on the play "Farragut North" by Beau Willimon, the film doesn't offer any particular revelations with this tale of how politics corrupts the soul, but it is timely, considering the general feeling of dissatisfaction in America at the moment.

Directed by, co-starring and co-written by George Clooney, who directed the excellent Good Night and Good Luck, this film looks at politics from the inside, detailing the hidden deals and scandals that go on during a Presidential election. In this case, the story focuses on a Democratic primary election. (Despite Clooney's political leanings, the Republicans aren't dealt with in this story. The Democrats are both the good and bad guys.)

Clooney plays Governor Morris, a seemingly honorable Presidential candidate whose underdog bid for the White House is becoming a threat to the front runner, mostly due to the media savvy and cleverness of Morris' new press agent Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) . Stephen is a young but formidable master of media, who is still holding onto his idealism, believing that he is putting an honest man in office. Stephen works for the more jaded Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who is Morris' experienced campaign manager. Paul hired Stephen as his ace-in-the-hole, much to the chagrin of Tom Duffy, (Paul Giamatti) the campaign manager for the competition. Duffy sees the talent in Stephen immediately, knowing that Stephen's media skill is a threat to his candidate. Paul is also getting a lot of attention from a cunning journalist (Marisa Tomei) and the two play a cautious game of words as they try to manipulate each other.

Stephen is full of confidence and gets into an ill-advised sexual relationship with a young intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) who has a secret which could sink the Governor's campaign. When Stephen makes a monumental mistake, things begin to unravel very quickly and he realizes that he'll need to become as hard-edged as the people around him, if is he to stop his career freefall.

Despite his star power, Clooney takes a step back and plays second-fiddle to Gosling. The moral degredation of Gosling's Stephen character is the focus of the film. Gosling's understated performance nicely captures Stephen's change from idealist to back-stabber. Clooney himself portrays an apparantly upright man with a shameful secret. Hoffman and Giamatti exude the world-weariness of veteran campaigners. Evan Rachel Woods keeps getting more stunning with each film appearance and is believeable as the object of lust for two of the main characters. Jeffery Wright has a pivotal supporting role as a Senator whose support both candidates are courting.

The strong performances by the talented cast is the best thing about the film. The message that politics erodes the morality of even the most well-intentioned people isn't a ground-breaking piece of news, but it's one that will no doubt resonate with people. The film tends to slip into melodrama at times but overall, it's an effective drama. Clooney's directing is assured and keeps the material centered, even when the script threatens to go off an a tangent.


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Comments 15 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hi Rob, I noticed that you gave the Ides Of March 3 out of 5 stars...my personal rating chart is from 1-10 (have no idea why) but I saw the movie today and give it a 9. It far exceeded what I was expecting. Ryan just gives on getting better with each performance and he's had plenty lately to practice with :) I enjoyed your review it was very detailed! I never read reviews until after I see a movie. Voted UP!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

It is typical of Clooney to focus on the overall make-up of the film and thus if necessary not have the lead role. It allows him to focus on the behind the scenes duties.I find I am unable to watch movies on current politics -whether real or fictional-because it is too depressing and realistic for me to be entertained. Sometimes I can't even be cheered up by Jon Stewart. So if I do see this movie, it will likely be a while from now-long after the real life primaries are finished.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

HI Sunshine; Ryan Gosling has come a long way as an actor and he manages to hold his own in this film against a powerful supporting cast.

Thanks for stopping by;

Rob


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Flora; Clooney makes his presence felt when he is on screen, but his screen time is very limited. As you say, he likes to focus on the overall picture.

I can see why you wouldn't want to watch a movie about politics now. If you do see it sometime in the future, I hope you enjoy it. It's a pretty good movie.

Rob


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago

I guess I'm going to have to check this out. Based on the trailer, it reminds me a lot of William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", which would make sense because that was when Caesar was killed. But your review has me interested enough to check it out :) Thanks for posting, voted Up, Useful, Awesome, and Interesting.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Carl; The Shakespeare analogy isn't blatant but there are some paralells if you look for them.

Thanks for stopping by to comment,

Rob


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Nice review....I have not seen the movie yet, but I generally do not like Clooney movies. From what I have read your 3 out of 5 appears to be in line with the national critics. Checking your review...wow what a great supporting cast....I like Giamatti, Hoffman, Tomei and Wood....I do have to give Clooney credit on getting a great cast together. Since I probably will not see this one until it reaches DVD...I will have to come back in a few months a check out your review again. Voted up and interesting. I will be attaching this link to my Top Films of 2011 hub under the review section if you do not mind.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi cogerson. It's a pretty good movie. Nothing great but well made. So, you're not a George Clooney fan, eh? I've liked some of his work (Up in the Air) and hated some (the Ocean 11 films, Batman and Robin). I enjoyed his director work in "Good Night and Good Luck", about Edward R. Murrow.

I appreciate you're linking my review up to your popular hub of 2011 films. Thanks.

Always and honor and a pleasure to hear from you, my friend.

Rob


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

From your description it sounds like a ring of truth. Politics is made up of humans who are all flawed in many ways. Maybe we should beware of those too good to be true.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi dahoglund; It's true. Even when politicians seem to be honorable, they still need to be watched carefully.

Thanks for commenting,

Rob


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I see you are one follower from 200....


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Flora, I just hit 200! Yah!


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

congratulations!


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

I have to say you've written a well thought out review of this movie. Although what was wrong with the movie though exactly for you not to give it a higher rating? I only ask because to me a three out of five would suggest a slightly above average film at best. therefore, I'm kind of curious to know what you thought was wrong with it for it not get a higher review.

Then again, maybe you see three out of five as being different than how I see it. However, I am curious. Plus, I would have to disagree with you giving this film a half star rating less than Thor, as that movie was not a great film on it's own merit (even for it's own genre of film). However, to each their own.

I do like your analysis of this movie, as it seems next to JBunce's review, you really nailed down the overall theme and feel of this movie's intentions. Plus, I liked how you went into detail describing briefly Stephen Meyers moral descension in this film without giving too much away. Anyway, congrats on the 200 followers thing, and keep up the good work.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Stevennix; This was a pretty good movie, but not an outstanding film. There were no major flaws with it, but then again, there was nothing ground-breaking about it. The message that politics erodes and destroys morality is not anything new and it's been handled better in other films over the years. Look at, for instance, the Claude Raines character in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington". (It's been done as far back as that.) The film is well made and timely but it's not very original. The reason I admired Kenneth Branagh's vision of "Thor" was because it was a very unique entry in the Comic Book adaptation genre. Also, "Ides of March" tends to twist off on tangents occasionally.

Thanks for stopping by my hub;

Rob

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