'The Ides of March'
(George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, et al / R / 109 mins)
Overview: George Clooney goes behind the camera for the fourth time to direct The Ides of March, an adaptation of Beau Willimon's play Farragut North. The movie stars Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, an idealistic deputy campaign manager for Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), who is in a major political battle in Ohio that could be the key to winning the Democratic presidential nomination. When the opposing candidate's campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) offers Stephen a job on his staff, Stephen neglects to inform his boss (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Just as that omission is revealed, Stephen uncovers a dirty personal secret that could sink Morris' political career.
Verdict: “The Ides of March” attempts to be more than just a procedural political drama, and while moments of greatness exist within the film, a procedural political drama is essentially what it is. The film contains Shakespearean elements of ambition, loyalty, betrayal, sex and revenge — all which can often go hand-in-hand with the drama of politics. Although the film recycles many familiar plot devices found in other politically driven films, “The Ides of March” utilizes them well, thanks mainly to the strong cast.
The setting for the film is during a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, a crucial election that will likely determine who will run for president under the banner of the Democratic Party. Ryan Gosling stars as Stephen Myers, a 30-year-old campaign press secretary and an idealist who fervently believes in his candidate.
As the election draws closer, Myers finds himself navigating backroom politics, the manipulation of veteran political strategists and potential scandal. These factors not only threaten his own personal belief system, but jeopardize his candidate’s chances of a presidential election. Myers is the lead character in the film and story focuses on his journey. The choices he makes and the actions he executes dictate the course of events that occur in the film.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Paul Zara, an experienced and cynical campaign manager who values loyalty above all else (particularly the loyalty of those on his staff). Paul Giamatti is Tom Duffy, the rival campaign manager who hopes to lure Myers (Gosling) over to his team. Molly Stearns, a young intern played well by Evan Rachel Wood is also aggressively pursuing Myers, but her pursuit is more seductive in nature.
In more of a supporting role, George Clooney plays Governor Mike Morris, a candidate running in the presidential primary race for the Democratic Party. Morris appears to be the kind of candidate only found in fiction; a free-thinking man of the people who’s not tied to any particular establishment or belief system. Morris is the kind of candidate who will turn down potentially critical endorsements if he doesn’t believe in them. As the film begins, the polls are starting to turn in Governor Morris’ favor.