RYAN GOSLING   GEORGE CLOONEY   

PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN   PAUL GIAMATTI   MARISSA TOMEI   EVAN RACHEL WOOD

THE IDES OF MARCH

When this film was trailered a few months ago everyone assumed this would be this year’s big Oscar magnet. We always forget that Oscar shies away from politically driven films, even when their casts are spectacular. Both Gosling and Clooney have other (higher praised) films that will directly compete with this politically taut John Grisham-like thriller. The Ides of March is a great film on it's own; the cast, handpicked by sophomore director Clooney, should garner a wide appeal since it's message is very timely. It appears Gosling can do no wrong, this being his third success this year. However, as an Oscar contender, it is lacking. It never finds it's way to the level of greatness and certainly doesn’t break any substantial new ground, except for the fact that we finally get to see Hoffman and Giamatti spar.

30-year-old Stephen Myers (Gosling) is the second most important man in democratic presidential hopeful Governor Mike Morris’s campaign management. Paul Zara (Hoffman) is the man in charge of how things are run, with Morris (Clooney) always getting the final word, since he will be the one in the White House if they win this game. Myers talks to New York Times journalist Ida Horowicz (Tomei) about how he truly believes Myers can change the world, but before this campaign is through, he who insists he isn’t naïve will eat his words. Myers gets caught in the crossfire between the two democrats gunning for the nomination and then discovers a dirty secret that puts all the cards in his favor.

Clooney's previous film Goodnight & Good Luck was a huge success, filmed in black and white and scoring 6 Academy Award nominations. The Ides of March could still land a few nominations, but Gosling is more likely to land a nomination for Drive and Clooney for The Descendants in the best actor category. Clooney’s screen time is minimal here, but as much as Hollywood loves him, no one will be shocked if he also gets a supporting nod for this role of a textbook politician. Clooney’s decision to use the democrats as the corrupt focus here was a smart one due to his own affiliation. While the film is about politics, it doesn’t come off as one side speaking poorly about the other, but instead diving into the disgusting aspects of this game we call election.

The unfriendly banter at the beginning of the film between rivals Giamatti and Hoffman sets the tone for the film, but not as much as the pep talk Tomei’s character gives to the impressionable Gosling who says he loves the Cool-aid he is drinking. One of the scenes that evoked a great sense of Clooney’s understanding as a film maker occurs at a press conference with varying levels of sound eventually fading to deadly silence. The script isn’t perfect and at times there are predictable, melodramatic sequences that don’t match the quality we might have anticipated or other scenes hint at.

 

Final Thought – another great thriller with Gosling in the drivers’ seat.

Grade B              

By: Dustin Chase W.   

Editor: Michael Woody

Dr. Donna Copeland’s

2nd OPINION

The film does an excellent job in depicting the intricacies and intrigues that are part of a political campaign in the U.S.  The writers, including the director/actor George Clooney, are to be congratulated for such a complex story that is so plausible and internally consistent.  The viewer is constantly reminded of events and people in the real news in current times—and, to some extent, historically.  Not that these things occur only in political arenas, they can certainly be seen in the business, arts, and academic communities as well.  But they probably have more repercussions in the national political scene.

 Stephen Myers, the main character (Ryan Gosling), is an up-and-coming star in the political world who is idealistic, confident, and so talented he makes his work look “effortless”, according to one observer.  As he learns more about the underpinnings of the organizations, we see him undergo a radical transformation into someone more like the pros who have been his models.  This is not something he wanted or could have planned for, and yet he finds himself being carried along—almost as if he is on a conveyor belt in a factory.  The film is primarily about this transformation, so we are not shown his story past a certain point.  Whether or not he develops enough insight to wrest more control over his life, whether he reconnects with his earlier beliefs, or whether the die is cast and he remains cynical, we do not know.  But it provides a wonderful opportunity for a conversation—particularly with young people—about the degree to which the individual has some control over the environment and the relative costs/benefits of

giving up some ideals in order to fit in and keep one’s position.

 The cast for this film was well chosen.  George Clooney (as Mike Morris) is a natural playing the role of a politician who presents as upright, with very admirable goals.  Philip Seymour Hoffman (Paul) and Paul Giamatti (Tom) are the bright, skillful campaign managers who single-mindedly go about their jobs of getting their candidate elected, as if that were the only consideration, no matter what the means.  Marisa Tomei (Ida) represents the media with similar concerns—“just doing her job.”  Evan Rachel Wood (Molly) is more a counterpart to Stephen in her relative innocence and vulnerability to the professionals and the processes in political life.  

 The strengths of the film include its pace, its plausibility, its relevance for the times, a fine cast of characters, and an engaging story.  George Clooney appears to be moving from acting roles to directorial positions where, as evidenced by this work, he is likely to be just as successful.


Grade:  A