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Monday, January 2, 2012



"All the reporters love you. Even the reporters that hate you still love you."
-- Tom Duffy

The Ides of March is a 2011 dramatic film directed by George Clooney that serves as an adaptation of the 2008 play Farragut North and follows the story of a Presidential campaign as it looks to secure the Democratic nomination for its candidate. The film opens on the young Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), who is working towards securing a win in the Ohio primary for Presidential candidate Mike Morris (Clooney). Meyers and Senior Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are desperately trying to secure the endorsement of North Carolina Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright), which would effectively wrap up the nomination for Morris, but opposing campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) is sure that his candidate will reel Thompson in. Realizing that Meyers is the smartest mind in the game, Duffy attempts to draw him toward his side of the playing field, but Meyers refuses. Around the same time, Meyers starts a physical relationship with a campaign intern named Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), who happens to be the daughter of the head of the Democratic National Convention. As time passes, however, Meyers starts to realize that Molly might hold a key towards Morris's ultimate downfall.

When I first heard about this film, I was initially drawn to the fact that it would be Clooney-directed. Only his fourth directorial effort, he has managed to have relative success in the past, so I was interested to see how he would take on directing efforts again. As I started to hear how about the cast list, however, my excitement grew tenfold. When you can find a way to put the likes of Gosling, Hoffman, Giamatti and Clooney in the same film, there's bound to be some buzz. And four Golden Globe nominations later, I'd say that The Ides of March has been able to succeed to quite a degree. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how it fares come the announcement of Academy Award nominations.

The first thing I noticed about this film was how tight the screenplay actually proved to be. From the outside looking in, this may look like a political drama that's going to get into the dogfight between two candidates looking to represent their party for the Presidency. And while we do get a little bit of that, there's something a little bit deeper going on here. If the film were solely focusing on campaign itself, I feel as though we would have seen a little more of Clooney; however, Gosling proves to be our lead here, and the story truly revolves around him. And that's where the screenplay truly succeeds. Instead of all the ins and outs of the campaign trail, the audience is served a fantastically-crafted character arc. Gosling's Meyers starts out as a wide-eyed young man full of promise and faith in the political process. As the events of the film progress, however, Meyers starts to lose that faith and sees the political process for what it truly is: a dog-eat-dog world where anything will be done in order to ensure a candidate's success. There's a moment in the film where Giamatti's Duffy tells Meyers that he should get out of the political lifestyle before he winds up "being a jaded, cynical asshole" like himself. Despite the warnings, we as the audience see Meyers dig himself deep into the depths of cynicism, ultimately coming full circle by film's end. The blend of character arc with fantastic story makes this a screenplay to love.

I'd also like to take a moment to talk about how the film's title plays into the overall storyline. The Ides of March, translated from the Latin Idus Martii, refers to the fifteenth day of March, specifically; however, the term has an incredibly relevant place in history and literature. The date is best known as the day that Julius Caesar was murdered by conspirators in 44 B.C. Supposedly, a seer had told Caesar that harm would come to him by the Ides of March, a scene that was famously dramatized in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar where the seer tells Caesar to "beware the Ides of March." The story of this betrayal parallels perfectly to our film, in which a number of betrayals must occur for our final outcome to be realized. In a way, the film's title should tip you off to what you're about to see, but for those of us who may have been unfamiliar with the importance of the Ides of March, the idea may have been lost. Just an extra bit of fun for those who understand, I suppose.

Fortunately, we're also given a fantastic cast that play their individual parts to a tee. Our big three in Gosling, Hoffman and Clooney are great, and their interplay with one another proves to be some of the best scenes in the film (for example, be on the lookout for a scene where Gosling confronts Clooney about some of the events of the film). Giamatti is brilliant in his limited supporting role, bringing a ferocity to the screen that's unmatched by anyone else in the film. Wood brings a fine performance as our female lead, and although she didn't have much to work with in terms of the screenplay, she still manages to bring out a great performance. Also be on the watch for Marisa Tomei in a limited but important role.

Overall, The Ides of March is a fantastic film all-around, from screenplay to acting to direction. Everything is firing on all cylinders here, and even though it's not bringing us anything terribly shocking, there's still a fantastic character arc to follow and enjoy. If that's your only reason to watch this film, then I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: A-
2 Thumbs Up


  1. I absolutely loved this film. After this and Drive, I'm beginning to forgive Ryan Gosling for The Notebook. :)

  2. Again This Movie Guy comes through, pointing out things I hadn't quite thought about. Yes, the actors are probably some of our best today. I wasn't all that fond of Giamatti in general, however he was good in this role. One of the biggest questions I had was about the title. Movie guy read my mind. It didn't mention the events being in March (i guess i can be simple minded) but I know about the meaning behind the date. It was interesting watching Goslin turn into the man he didn't seem to be able to escape eventually but i was surprised at the "set up". I thought it was a good movie but somehow didn't find it to have a really "powerful" message, just kind of reinforced to me what goes on behind the political "curtain". Jen W. I liked "The Notebook" (from what I remember, I thought it was kind of "bittersweet" and I want to see "Drive" but you obviously didn't like it. Oh well I'll see it anyway - maybe I'll agree :)