|Flag pin: check! Political importance: pending|
Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) is running for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States against Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell). Stephen (Ryan Gosling) is the idealistic and instinctively brilliant junior campaign manager for Governor Morris; the senior campaign manager is Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who has experience and political savvy. Both candidates need to win the official support of crazy ass Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright), who controls enough delegates to sway and clinch the nomination for either candidate. Pretty cut and dry so far, right? Stephen is a rising star who both legitimately believes in his candidate and is getting to show off how awesome he is, every time Governor Morris says or does something clever in public. As the campaign heats up, though, both Stephen's idealism and his fantastic career suffer enormous setbacks. Can he fight back and save what is rightfully his, or will he have to sacrifice one for the other?
|Production note: there are a lot of corded phones in this flick|
If there is one thing that The Ides of March is not lacking in, it is acting talent. I kind of have a thing for Ryan Gosling right now (ever since I saw Drive), and he has a good handle on the whole charming-but-occasionally-coldly-manipulative thing here. George Clooney turns in a similarly effective performance; it was kind of cool seeing him turn on the "public face" charm and then, in private, have a different attitude. Both men were good, but not great, in similar roles. What impressed me most in this film were the dueling performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, who played Senator Pullman's senior campaign manager. Both turned in terrific performances; I really liked Giamatti's resignation toward being a spider-like bastard and Hoffman's uncharacteristic explosion took me by surprise. The rest of the cast was solid, but nothing extraordinary. Jeffrey Wright gave another good small performance as a fairly unlikable character.
|Mostly for his attitude during the "Yo Mama" jokes part of political speeches|
While the acting is good, the best parts don't get nearly enough attention. I seriously loved Giamatti and Hoffman as heartless dueling chessmasters, but this movie needed either Gosling or Wood to be the characters that impressed.
|...and it wasn't going to be her bipolar character|
|Moments later, at least one man would have a knife in his back|
That's not to say that The Ides of March is a waste of time; it's just not as excellent as it should be, given the talent involved. Here's what I liked:
- while Clooney is an outspoken Democrat, this film doesn't target (or even mention) Republicans, which makes this a lot less abrasive than it might have been
- Ryan Gosling's crazy eyes when he finds out Governor Morris' secret are priceless
- I loved Giamatti's character when he explained his motives
|"Well, Stephen, I'm made entirely of bastard molecules"|
- Really? That is the scandal facing Governor Morris? Couldn't they try something unique?
- Evan Rachel Wood's character's motives confuse me. SPOILER ALERT: Maybe I just don't understand pregnancy (which is very possible), but I have trouble imagining a seemingly carefree young woman essentially demanding sex from a handsome man when A) she knows she is pregnant B) is freaking the hell out about being pregnant and C) her new sexy time partner is not her baby daddy.
- That title sucks so much. Sure, they were clever enough to set Election Day on March 15, but did they have to use this title? While slightly literary, the only people who want to watch this film will know exactly what the title refers to --- if they weren't going to be subtle, they might as well have titled the movie "Political Betrayal: The Movie"
|Stephen, in mourning for his innocence|