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Written by: Sam Fragoso on October 7, 2011

October 7, 2011 | 15 comments | Featured, Old Format

The Ides of March

Politics are often better left unseen. What we may discover will undoubtedly scare us and make us realize that notions like morals or common good are nonexistent in politics. It’s a harsh world, and quite frankly, there’s nothing we can do. George Clooney’s brilliant, well-acted and downright mesmerizing film The Ides of March embodies these unfortunate realities with unflinching honesty.

Based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, The Ides of March follows Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a fresh and intelligent kid who’s an adviser for Democrat Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney), whose campaign is led by Stephen’s boss Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Morris is inexperienced, but his presidential candidacy has a legitimate shot at the White House.

The Ides of March features a political atmosphere like few films I’ve seen. Ideals are tested, characters altered and any decency Morris or Stephen (among many others) possess in the beginning of the movie are ultimately relinquished by the film’s final shot.

Reminiscent of All The Presidents Men, Clooney’s tour-de-force of conventional yet dynamic filmmaking is on full display here. The characters beyond the major players include a plethora of fantastic supporting actors: Paul Giamatti as a slimy consultant for the a Democrat opponent, Even Rachel Wood as a young, seductive intern who gets more than she bargains for and Marisa Tomei as a devious journalist for the New York Times.

George Clooney (left), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (center), and Ryan Gosling (back right) star in the engrossing political thriller, THE IDES OF MARCH

All of the characters contribute to Ides’ compelling, jaded, and cold-blooded storyline. There’s no good guy here. There’s just the corrupt, the cynical and all those in between.

Some may find fault with the lack of a character to “root for”. But you see the film is not wishing for your pity or praise of characters. The Ides of March faces the facts of American government and politics without apathy. Even our protagonist, who at first seems to be an idealist inspired by Morris, ultimately succumbs to cynicism.

The plot unravels with multiple, suspenseful dirty secrets and lies. It’s troubling for anyone who cares for the well being of this country to see such supposed wise, compassionate men take part in such frivolous and sadistic acts.

I suppose it all comes back to us. More often than not our own personal desires trump the common good. Politics should — in an idealistic, alternate reality sort of way — be fair, just and contain some sort of loyalty.

As a piece of art, Clooney has achieved something special with “Ides of March” As a message to the American people about the corruption in our government that seemingly has gone unnoticed, The Ides of March is a spellbinding piece of work

Rating: ★★★½

The Ides of March

The Ides of March (2011)

Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Director: George Clooney

Writer: Beau Willimon, Grant Heslov

Runtime: 101 minutes

Genre: drama

Trailer The Ides of March

Comments

There are 15 comments for this post.

  1. Page on October 7, 2011 9:16 pm

    Duke,
    Thanks for the great review! With politics, stellar actors, drama and suspense, count me in! This is my favorite type of movie and you’ve certainly made it sound enticing.
    Page

  2. Duke on October 7, 2011 10:45 pm

    Hope you enjoy the film Page. Oh and by the way, call me Sam … Duke is just a nickname.

  3. Alex on October 9, 2011 1:43 pm

    Love your unapologetic praise for this flick. Why are so many other critics hating on it? I thought it was great.

    Awesome review.

  4. Duke on October 9, 2011 2:09 pm

    Thanks Alex.

  5. Dan O. on October 10, 2011 4:05 am

    It was a good and very smart film but too much of it felt like something I’ve seen before, where the same things were talked about and shown. However, the performances are what kept me going the whole time with this film. Great review Sam. Check out mine when you get the chance.

  6. Duke on October 10, 2011 8:55 am

    Just because you’ve heard these conversations before, doesnt mean that’s the fault of IDES. Of course I’ve heard conversations on loyalty, politics, etc… But very few films can make those often dull interactions, as enigmatic and engaging as Clooney.

  7. Brian on October 10, 2011 12:14 pm

    I saw this movie and found it to be just dreadful. However, after reading reviews like this one and Devin Faraci’s on Badassdigest, I can’t help but feel like maybe I ought to give it a second chance. Still, my main problem wasn’t that there was no “good guy” or “character to ‘root for’” but rather that I felt like there were no characters at all. Every actor was just inheriting a series of traits as gleaned from the exposition of others. I couldn’t feel any real motivation behind their actions.

    I’ve already got my vicious theatrical review up on my site, but maybe when the time comes I’ll watch it again on DVD to see if my opinion has changed.

  8. Duke on October 10, 2011 12:21 pm

    The characters contained plenty of traits, unfortunately for you they are ones hard to dissect and appreciate people on screen.

    Bottom line: there reason for there feeling like there isn’t a character at all, is because these people live their lives without merely any morals or common good in mind.

  9. NeverTooEarlyMP on October 16, 2011 5:53 am

    Great review, Sam. Like you, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit that it was a bit of a guilty pleasure watching the characters play each other and get played in return. Even Giamatti unwittingly paves the way for his own (presumable) defeat.

  10. Duke on October 16, 2011 12:00 pm

    The actors move the film throughout – masterclass of acting.

  11. Jan Meyers on October 16, 2011 4:50 pm

    Sam, Saw the film yesterday and I thought it was absolutely great. The cast was cohesive and everything about the movie from the somber setting, and background music and accidental noises contributed to the mood of this film. The actors seemed confident and sure in their roles. The the sadness of the film is that it is probably closer to the truth than an idealist like myself can take in. I found myself anxious and talking back to the reaction as the unraveling occurs. I will not soon for get this film. Politics has always been very interesting to me and once again the reality of the “business” breaks my heart. Aside: I didn’t recognize Marissa Tomei, great job of make up and costuming. (All the things that go into a great movie experience)

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