The Ides of March
Many people in this country are sick of politics. Many people also don’t like celebrities giving their opinions on politics. Unfortunately, this means many people will skip “The Ides of March” and write it off as more liberal preaching by George Clooney, the director, co-writer, and co-star. By doing so, they’re depriving themselves of some great entertainment, not a political lecture.
Clooney plays Democratic Governor Mike Morris, who’s running for President, but he’s still in the primary stage, so he’s competing against another Democrat. All of the characters are involved in this Democratic Primary, which means the good guys AND the bad guys are Democrats. So while the campaign does make liberal speeches and insult Republicans, the characters are also hiding some pretty big and ugly stuff about themselves. See, the movie isn’t about one side being right or wrong. It’s about the political process, idealism, compromise, personal weaknesses, and desperation. It shows HOW good people could go bad.
The main character is actually Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), Morris’s Media Manger and second in command to the Campaign Manager (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Gosling has had a great year, with this following “Crazy Stupid Love” and “Drive.” He’s compelling too. A smart up-and-comer on the political scene, Meyers is good at it and loves it. He’s a bit smug, but he’s also earnest about working hard for his beliefs that he doesn’t come across as a jerk, but as someone to look up to.
The movie is kind of talky. Dialogue moves quickly, and some insider shorthand is used. For a political follower like me, it was fine, and my wife was able to get nearly all of it from context, so it shouldn’t be too confusing to general audiences.
The best recommendation I can give about the movie is that I didn’t want it to end. In fact, I was surprised when it did because I wanted the story to keep going. It’s not a traditional plot that follows the candidate all the way to the White House. The story is just about a moment in the campaign where a crisis could erupt unless the characters deal with it. How it’s dealt with provides great conflict and internal turmoil. You ask yourself what you would do, how you would react, and if you’d have any other choice than the one taken. It’s fascinating to put yourself in these shoes.
I think “The Ides of March” is the best movie I’ve seen this year. I hope people give it a chance and don’t write it off as “politics as usual.” This movie might even help you understand WHY “politics as usual” is often so revolting.