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The Ides of March (2011)
The Ides of March
Director: George Clooney
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Cast: George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Max Minghella, Jennifer Ehle, Gregory Itzin, Michael Mantell, Bella Ivory, Hayley Meyers, Maya Sayre, Yuriy Sardarov, Danny Mooney, John Manfredi, Robert Mervack, Fabio Polanco, Frank Jones Jr., Peter Harpen
Synopsis: An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for pervasive language
Ideals vs. Reality of Politics
There's an old saying that sometimes when we start off in life, things can be as clear as day and night. The lines between right and wrong can very well defined, and life can is a lot simpler when we're younger. However, as we get older, we come to find out that the world isn't as simple as we'd like it be. That sometimes the lines between fair and unfair, right and wrong, or whatever cannot be easily defined. Sometimes those that we believe are friends of ours can turn out to be nothing more than opportunistic leeches ready to pounce on you at your weakest moment. Now, imagine the world of politics. Politicians not only have the daunting task of answering to the voters they're trying to win over, but they also have to deal with various complex procedures and issues each day; something that's easier said than done. Sure, we can mock politicians as much as we'd like, but the truth of the matter is that politics can sometimes be a dirty game. One that deals with various two faced friends, and constant ridicule in the court of public opinion. Hell, a rumor about a politician doesn't even have to be true, as all it takes is for one seed of doubt, and they'll be guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of public opinion; proof be damned. Indeed, the world of politics is a game of dirty pool, where only the strong and cunning survive.
Ryan Gosling (Stephen Meyers) plays a well to do consultant to Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney), who seeks to win the democratic nomination to run for President of the United States. Like all politics when they make their pretty speeches to relate to the American people, Governor Morris says all the right things, and comes off as a man that one could put their trust in completely. However, that's not to say that he too doesn't have his own dirty little secrets. What I love about this movie is not only does it immerse the viewer into a deep intricate story full of lies and deceit, but it also does a great job showing the character progression of Stephen. At the beginning of the film, he starts off as a well to do consultant that's full of ideals, but as the movie progresses, we slowly start to see his demeanor change for the worse. Not only does he soon fall victim to the dirty side of politics, but he soon realizes in the world of political agenda that only the strong and cunning survive; while sometimes friendships aren't always as loyal as one would like to believe.
Although I won't go on record to say this is the best political agenda movie that I've seen, but it's definitely one of the most interesting ones out there. Of course, what's even more surprising is that this movie only focuses on the corruption and dirty politics on the side of the Democratic party; especially considering that George Clooney himself is a democrat. Meanwhile, the republican party is rarely mentioned in this movie, as they're merely referenced in one scene, as a party that's already a lost cause to dirty politics. However, that's not to say this film is biased in anyway, as they could have easily have made this film about the Republican party instead, and the end results of this move would have been the same.
Anyway, to get back to the story, Stephen is a political consultant to the Governor, who aspires to be the next President of the United States. At first, his career seems quite promising, as even the campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), for the other candidate competing for the Democratic primary wants to hire him. In fact, this is where all his problems begin, as Tom invites Stephen to have a private meeting about switching sides. However, Stephen rejects his offer, but chooses not to tell his boss, Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), about such a meeting, as he figures it to be not that big of a deal. Unfortunately, for Stephen's sake, he soon learns in the dirty game of politics that all it takes is one little mistake to spiral your political career down the drain.
To make matters even more interesting, he soon finds himself smitten by a young intern named Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood). After a few flirtatious scenes of playful banter, the two start to date each other secretly. Both of them seemingly happy together, but as it turns out, she has a dark secret that could potentially destroy Governor Mike Morris' presidential aspirations for good. Needless to say, the situation puts a severe strain on Stephen's loyalties to the party, and his feelings for her. Although he doesn't want to lose her, he knows that having her on the campaign trail will only be detrimental to Morris' political aspirations, in the long run. Unfortunately, the troubles don't end there, as Stephen naively tells Paul Zara about his meeting with Tom Duffy; which results in a massive cover up conspiracy that causes Stephen to lose his job. Now with nowhere to go, he soon finds out that in the world of politics, you don't have any real friends. No, you have acquaintances who'll act as your friend out of convenience, as sometimes all it takes is one questionable act/feature about a person, whether it be true or not, to cause a person's political career to flush down the proverbial toilet.
Although, I seriously doubt all political campaigns are like this, but the movie does bring up a good point. That sometimes the ideals of what politics should be, and the promise of a potential candidate, doesn't often match up with the reality of politics. Sometimes in politics compromises of one's ideals must be made to achieve objectives, and that sometimes even the tiniest questionable mistake can make will get amplified to the millionth degree, due to modern media exposure.
As for the rest of the film, I have to say George Clooney does an excellent job directing this movie, as you have to almost applaud how he slowly weaves the audience into the ideals of politics, but then slowly shifts the movie into showing the dark side of how corrupt politics can get. Plus, it certainly doesn't help when you have an all star cast that meshes almost perfectly together.
Having said all that, the movie does suffer from a few pacing issues at times, but it's never to the point where it ruins the movie. In the end, if you're into dramas about politics, then I would definitely recommend this movie. Not only does it feature a great cast that meshes perfectly together, but it features a deep engaging character driven story that'll hook audiences almost immediately into it's intricate web. Overall, I'd have to give this movie a three out of four, as it's definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.