johnlink ranks THE IDES OF MARCH (2011)

IDES OF MARCH is a movie I’ve wanted to see since I first heard of it. Coming out roughly a year before the election which would see Obama get a second term, this is a star-powered look at a fictitious Democratic presidential primary.

(l to r) Governor Morris (George Clooney) meets with Stephen (Ryan Gosling), Ben (Max Minghella) and other staffers to discuss national service in Columbia Pictures' IDES OF MARCH.

(l to r) Governor Morris (George Clooney) meets with Stephen (Ryan Gosling), Ben (Max Minghella) and other staffers to discuss national service in Columbia Pictures’ IDES OF MARCH.

I watched THE IDES OF MARCH (2011) on 5.14.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

George Clooney is a well known liberal. In fact, Obama’s famous ‘Hope’ poster supposedly is modeled after a picture of Obama listening to Clooney speak. Knowing this, it might be a surprise to learn that Clooney directs and stars in a movie which paints a Democratic primary as a place filled with terrible people at worst and cynics at best.

The story starts ideally. with young campaign hand Stephen (Ryan Gosling) working on the a primary race for a candidate he truly believes in, Mike Morris (Clooney). Stephen works under the thumb of likable campaign manager Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and they work against their opponents crafty manager Tom (Paul Giamatti). Stephen is living a good, ideal life even as Paul and a reporter friend (Marisa Tomei) sip cocktails of cynicism across from his smile.

Soon he also becomes ensnared by a young political intern, Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), who gets Stephen into bed before revealing a terrible secret to him. See, after an optimistic first act, IDES OF MARCH becomes a movie about everyone’s dirty laundry. Stephen gets betrayed by three different people, and he betrays at least one or two himself. Nobody comes out looking good, it is just a matter of who is left standing.

It is interesting that Clooney chose to model the Governor he plays after Democrats he admires. The platitudes spouted on the campaign trail sound like level, reasoned concepts. He sounds like someone we would all want to vote for. He calmly argues for gay marriage and he holds to his ideals when an unsavory fellow Democrat (Jeffrey Wright) wants to worm his way on to Morris’ potential cabinet. Yet, we learn, Morris has a personal life worse than that of any real life president (that we know of anyway). The movie vilifies Morris, but he is not alone in that vilification process. Ultimately, IDES OF MARCH becomes about the villainy of the political process itself.

The acting is understandably solid. Between all those great actors above there is little chance of a movie with sour notes. None of these thespians, save Gosling and Wood perhaps, would put this movie in their top five roles. For the most part, they play to type. Giamatti is a little angrier, Clooney a little more nefarious, but nobody is unrecognizable. They all serve their purpose, without much more.

But this thriller does become more of an intense look at a spiraling group of people than its first act would seem to indicate. Even if the characters are not particularly likable, IDES OF MARCH as a movie, absolutely is.

SCORES

FILM: 6; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 7

6+8+6+7+0=27

FINAL SCORE: 6.75 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on May 15, 2015.

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