The Ides of March (2011)

The Ides of March (2011) – I have been in college for a long time, mostly due to dropping out a lot and changing majors. At a certain point I figured I’d just pick a god damn major and stick with it so I could just get a degree and get it the hell over with. I picked Government, because I follow politics and have a rather strong interest in it. I studied Government for exactly one semester as California State University, Sacramento and then changed my major to Theatre because I hated Government with a passion. I just didn’t have the stomach for it. It seems to get anything done, so much compromise and dirty dealing needs to be done that nothing actually gets done. These weren’t exactly new revelations to me but holy shit did that horrific semester drive the point home.

George Clooney’s latest film is The Ides of March, based on the Beau Willimon play Farrugat North. Willimon wrote his play after working on Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Given the content of the film, this raises disturbing questions about Dean. Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, a campaign consultant working for Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). Gosling is not the head of the campaign but he has a certain quality that draws the attention of Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), the campaign director for Morris’ Democratic opponent Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell).Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Paul, the head of Morris’ campaign. Evan Rachel Wood plays Molly Stearns, an intern on Morris’ campaign who Stephen gets involved with. Marissa Tomei is Ida, a friendly reporter who may not be an actual friend. Jeffrey Wright plays North Carolina Senator Thompson, an ambitious man whose support is crucial to securing the nomination.

It should surprise no one that politics is a dirty game, but The Idea of March still packs a bunch by chronicling Stephen disillusionment with the process. The title, obviously, comes from the story of Julius Caesar which was immortalized in a famous play by William Shakespeare. That’s appropriate since the story takes on the stakes of a Shakespearean tragedy. With all the scheming that takes place in the film, you’re never sure how things will turn out but you know it will end badly for some people. Like in Clooney’s previous directorial efforts Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck (I never saw Leatherheads), he takes a backseat as an actor. This movie belongs to Gosling (who has been blitzing the Cineplex this year with this, Crazy Stupid Love, and Drive). Everyone in the cast is uniformly excellent and Gosling is the adhesive holding it all together. The Ides of March ranks as one of the better films I’ve seen this year.

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