Some movies offer you a message that is perhaps new or refreshing, some tell you something you already knew. But, if we’re lucky, all the other elements of the film add up to something worth watching. To my delight, such is the case with The Ides of March. Fortunately it isn’t like There Will Be Blood, which took us the really long way around to the moral that greed is bad. However, in The Ides of March, we get a sampling of how an American political campaign can suck the life and soul out of a candidate, and perhaps challenge one to remain true to the ideals. But also there is a captivating personal story full of great performances.
Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, press secretary to democrat Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). He’s idealistic and believes in his candidate. But he gets an eye-opening lesson in the ethically challenged political arena during his time on the campaign trail.
We’ve seen the subject matter before, but this cast really does its’ duty with the material here. Gosling and Clooney are joined by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei. These people could almost make a bad script good. But luckily there’s no worry of that here, as George Clooney has managed to write a decent screenplay with Beau Willimon and Grant Heslov based on Willimon’s play called Farragut North. I was intrigued to see where this movie was going all the way through, and when the final shot is over, I was thoroughly satisfied.
Both Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti have great roles and particularly great scenes with Gosling, each one opening Myers eyes a little wider to the realities of each situation. Each of those characters aid in Myers awakening and Gosling offers a strong performance. He really is quite watchable and easily holds his own and some alongside all these veterans. His questionable morality becomes not so questionable by the end and the last shot of him is rather chilling.
Political thrillers can be tedious sometimes when in the wrong hands, but The Ides of March moves along nicely despite being based on a play, which can also be a problem if not handled properly. You know, too many talking heads syndrome? But not an issue here. The dialogue is to the point and there’s nothing on screen that shouldn’t be. Where some directors might have dragged this out to 2 full hours or more. Clooney keeps it at 101 minutes. Nice job, man. You don’t want to be looking at your watch in a film labled a “thriller”, even if it’s more intrigue than action, like this one.
This is a strong film. Don’t know if it will be Oscar strong, but I certainly recommend it and give it a good three and a half kittenhands, maybe four.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, would also now like to see more of Evan Rachel Wood. She’s awesome. And you know, really pretty. 🙂