George Clooney has returned to the director’s chair for the first time since his 2008 football flop, “Leatherheads.”
“The Ides of March” is a politically-infused drama with an all-star cast. The story is based on a play titled “Farragut North,” written by Beau Willimon, who worked on Howard Dean’s nomination campaign in 2004. Willimon and Clooney also co-wrote the screenplay with Grant Heslov.
The protagonist is Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a top-notch press secretary working on the campaign of Democratic hopeful, Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). Morris is involved in a tight race with another prospective candidate and his team is doing everything they can to maintain their slight edge.
Meyers is a youthful idealist, blindly standing behind a candidate he believes will bring real and lasting change to America. What he doesn’t seem to realize is that modern politics are driven by smooth talkers who make lots of big promises, not idealists who stand firm to the things they believe in.
“The Ides of March” quickly turns into a cat-and-mouse game, attempting to reflect the lack of conscience found within many political campaigns. Nearly every character involved in this story puts up the façade that they are acting on the belief of some higher purpose. However, deep down they are only looking for a way to fatten their pockets and lengthen their careers.
Morris seems to be without a moral compass other than the one his newfound position has created for him; he has no need for guilt and is only concerned with how the public views him. If they only knew the truth, then his campaign would come to a screeching halt.
The performances from the majority of the cast were first-class, especially those of Clooney, Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood.
Clooney makes it very easy to want to vote for any other candidate on the bill.
Gosling, Hoffman and Giamatti seem to compliment each other very well in their more serious scenes together.
As far as Wood, this is probably her best piece of acting so far.
“Ides” makes subtle pokes at some of the so-called issues of American politics over the past few decades, including Bill Clinton’s classic blunder with the intern.
Much of the story is meant to bring to light what has become important in presidential campaigns and the term that follows.
The public image of any man in power is almost the only thing that matters now; not how well he performs his duties or how good or bad he is as a person.
The writers of the screenplay did a fine job in getting their points across to the audience while hiding under the veil of a political thriller.
However, one of my biggest issues with this film was how boring it felt, even during the so-called exciting parts. Even when the climax had finally arrived, it really didn’t feel that much different than the rest of the movie.
That’s because films of this type tend to be almost completely based around wordy dialogue that lulls the viewer into disinterest.
Even the superb acting of this A-list cast couldn’t make a movie about a political campaign that can keep audiences highly entertained from start to finish.
This is not to say that “Ides” was a bad movie, because it wasn’t. As far as political dramas go, it was probably one of the best I’ve seen.
However, that isn’t saying much, as most of them leave me nearly asleep by the time the credits roll.
This is certainly not the first film to take a cynical look at the corruption that comes with politics, and there may be no creepy soothsayers like in the days of Julius Caesar. But while the chess match known as politics has changed greatly over 2,000 years, some things will never change.