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Ides of March, The (2011)

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Score: 10/10

Genre: Political Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.

Release Date: October 7th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R

Director: George Clooney Actors: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Ehle, Bella Ivory, Maya Sayre

“T

he Ides of March,” based on the Beau Willimon play “Farragut North,” is a superbly adapted, perfectly acted, deviously brilliant drama that carefully examines its gathering of corrupt political minions. The characters are intriguing, clever, and not of the cookie-cutter variety, despite journeying down the expected path of power-hungry and extortive. Although they’re all antiheroes, betraying seemingly gallant introductions, the plot remains suspenseful and the scripting inspiring. Clooney has crafted a forte in political thrillers and brings with him an exceptional cast not likely to be forgotten by the time the Academy Awards roll around (although an early October release generally bodes ill for nominations).

Charming Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is the second-in-command to manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who works tirelessly on presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris’ (George Clooney) campaign. As they prepare for the Ohio Democratic Primary Debate, it becomes obvious that their opponent Senator Pullman and his campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) are going to keep them on their toes. Stephen isn’t accustomed to the dirty wheeling and dealing necessary to come out on top, but he’s about to get a first-hand lesson on what politics are all about.

Young, blonde intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) has a few dark secrets of her own, and looks to the idealistic Myers for help. Meanwhile, Paul attempts to recruit him to the other side, Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) demands a cabinet seat to swing his delegates’ votes, and Ida (Marisa Tomei), a reporter for the New York Times, is always at the ready to blackmail staffers into giving her sensitive information. Backstabbing, bribes, mind games, and trickery are commonplace components of the presidential campaign and Myers’ trip to the dark side – for each of them, winning respect is merely confusing people into believing that their fear is actually love.

Zara states that loyalty is the only currency in politics, but “The Ides of March” sheds light on a more powerful tender: information. While dissecting the crooked acts exhibited by every party in politics, revealing the nonexistence of integrity, and highlighting the inner workings of corruption, the film also presents genuinely exciting characters and award-worthy actors in those juicy roles. With their delivery and the natural, calculating dialogue, there’s never a misstep – it’s a tremendous collaboration and a rewarding effort that harkens back to Clooney’s success with “Good Night, and Good Luck.” The new title, referring to Julius Caesar’s assassination, isn’t nearly as subtle as Willimon’s original moniker, but the themes and outcome are just as affecting in the arresting contemporary landscape of governmental affairs.

– Mike Massie

 



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