Heather's DVD Review: The Ides of March
Is it possible to maintain your ideals as your desire for power takes over? That's the premise behind the new movie The Ides of March, now on DVD, which was a mixed bag in terms of results.
The Ides of March followed an idealistic press secretary Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) has his dream working with Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) who was a shoo-in for a Presidential nomination. The press and potential voters seemed to like what he had to say and everyone who worked for him believed it as well. Stephen begins a casual relationship with a well connected intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) that could be a recipe for disaster when he learned her secret that could sink the campaign. He also made a professional mistake when he met with a rival campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) that was going to be published in the papers by an overzealous reporter (Marisa Tomei). This put his job in jeopardy and his working relationship with Morris' campaign manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Stephen goes to extremes to redeem himself that forces him to sacrifice some of his principals. Will he be better or worse off for betraying his core beliefs? Will success make him happier or hide the cracks in his life?
In terms of plot, The Ides of March had plenty to spare, but often went the storytelling road more travelled by previous political films. The movie's message was that power corrupts even the most idealistic of minds no matter how hard they try to fight it. No one can believe what they see on television or read in the newspaper because there's usually something that lies beneath all that glossy subtext that no one ever sees. March's tone was often a little too downbeat and made most of the cast of characters very unlikable. The movie could've used a little more levity in the early portion of the film or a sharper plan of attack in poking holes at the film's particular targets.
As a director, Clooney wanted to poke holes at all sides objectively, but that tactic ended up hurting the film's plot in the long run because they wasn't really anyone to root for. Despite his best intentions, Stephen even became his worst enemy without really trying too hard. Gosling did an admirable effort in giving Stephen enough layers to make viewers understand why he loved politics. His breakthrough scene was his pivotal showdown with Clooney. Both actors showed their skills greatly in a scene full of verbal wordplay that could've turned ugly at any given moment. Giamatti and Hoffman were great as two cynical campaign managers that have seen and done it all. The movie's real casualties were Wood and Clooney who were both saddled with underdeveloped characters that fell victim to some plot cliches. It's a shame, but the film is still worth watching regardless of the uneven plot and story pacing.
Verdict: A thriller that had the makings of greatness, but fell short due to an underdeveloped story.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)