Proof Review: The Ides Of March (2011)

Release Date
October 7, 2011
Director
George Clooney
Screenplay
George Clooney
Beau Willimon
Grant Heslov
Distributed By
Columbia Pictures
Budget
$12.5 million
Drama, Thriller
Rated R for pervasive language
101 minutes

The Ides Of March
09fourhalf-stars

Talk to me about primaries, polls, and politics and I will respond to you with a blank stare. However, divulge to me that Senators are making backhanded deals, Governors are exploiting their power, and journalists are blackmailing affiliates and I will engage in the conversation. The Ides Of March does just that, and is one of the most engaging dramas I feel I have seen in quite some time.

Having been promoted as a dramatic thriller, the thrills from this film come completely out of human interaction rather than an element of urgency. Though we do worry that George Clooney’s character Mike Morris won’t win the Ohio primary for president, we are never under duress. Instead, we get to know these characters, and as it goes with politicians, we slowly become aware that we cannot trust most of them.

Ryan Gosling is brilliant in his role as Stephen Meyers, the Junior Campaign Manager for Mike Morris. He fits the part perfectly, as you buy that he is the rising young gun that every other character says he is (if Clooney, Hoffman, and Giamatti say it, it must be true). When he makes a poor decision to meet with Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), the opposing Campaign Manager, the strong ideals that Meyers holds dear begin to slip through his fingers.

George Clooney commands attention in his brief but significant role (having been in the director’s chair for most of the film). The casting of himself as the Democratic presidential candidate is almost too perfect, with Clooney’s winning smile overshadowing any discrepancies he may have (making it easy for the well-written twists and turns to sink in even deeper).

Evan Rachel Wood is also fierce in her role and her performance completely blows you away, delivering a performance that few other actresses could touch. There is no small role in the film and each actor/actress brings something specifically unique and enthralling to the plot.

The writing is along the lines of The Social Network, and award-worthy in its own right, which is apparent in the selling of a political based drama to a viewer who has zero sense of the world of politics. Lately, screenplay writers in general have been impressing me with their ability to pen astounding and thought-provoking endings, and The Ides of March is a perfect example of that crescendo to an end. Also, add to that Alexandre Desplat’s (who has had an amazing year) traditional marching droll, turning to a “gallows march” drumroll towards the finale of the film, and you have an ending that positively hits the nail on the head.

With the perfect ensemble cast, the writing of whom can only be described as “professionals”, and a hint of mystery and misdirection in the campaigning of this film, (not to mention Ryan Gosling, who has become an all-time favorite of mine through this year alone) and you have a politically fueled drama in The Ides of March that is hard not to love.

 

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