Like the Wall Street of politics, The Ides of March boldly displays the currupting game-playing that goes on behind the scenes of campaigning – and it effortlessly does it with a suave tight script, brilliant performances and tangible tension.
Ryan Gosling plays the lead in The Ides of March, the latest writting and directorial effort from George Clooney. Gosling’s character, Stephen Myers, is of the utmost importance to his boss, Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). As the second-in-command of the campaign, Stephen wholeheartedly believes in Governor Morris. If Morris is elected into the White House, the power of democracy will be returned to the citizens of the United States – or so he believes. All it will take for Morris to get into the Oval Office is winning the Ohio primaries.
But because Stephen exudes charm and conviction like no other, every competing campaign wants him. Honestly believing that it will benefit the campaign, Stephen agrees to meet with the head of his competition’s campaign (Paul Giamatti). That seemingly innocent decision spins everything out of control. Where Stephen never had to play dirty before, the consequences of their meeting reveal the corrupt underbelly of politics and put his integrity to the test. Does continue playing the game with integrity, or does he play to win – like everyone else – getting his hands dirty along the way?
Despite what you may believe, you do not need to be into hardcore politics to follow and enjoy The Ides of March. Sure, there’s a whole lot of political mumbo jumbo in the beginning of the film, but it’s there with explanation and before long, the film isn’t as much about the politics as it is the characters. Surprisingly, the film never takes it upon itself to point out “Republicans are bad!” or “Democrats are awful!” Making anyone a cynic of politics, The Ides of March bashes on both parties equally.
It wasn’t until the closing credits rolled that I noticed The Ides of March was directed by Clooney. While watching the film, I asked myself, ‘Who directed this?! It’s fantastic!’ Upon learning it was Clooney, it made sense – he has such a strong eye for filmmaking and, having co-written the screenplay, he intimately understands the script.
While rising star Ryan Gosling gives yet another perfect performance (see Drive) to ensure a Best Actor nomination this year, each member of the supporting cast also give an award-worthy performance. Giamatti is fantastic, as always. Philip Seymour Hoffman gives another astounding performance as Gosling’s boss under the Governor. Marisa Tomei plays a feisty journalist that you love to hate. And Evan Rachel Wood plays the cute intern that becomes Gosling’s romantic interest. Each and every one of them deserves a nomination this year.
Even if you don’t agree with the politics of The Ides of March, it’s a film worthy of your viewing. Clooney is able to take something so language-driven as politics, turn it on it’s head and make it an intense thriller without the use of guns and murder. It’s absolutely brilliant. As of now, Clooney, Gosling and Co. have my vote for the 2012 Academy Awards.
Photo credit: Columbia Pictures