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An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail. Based on the play by Beau Willimon.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 219
- Fresh: 185
- Rotten: 34
- Average Rating: 7.3/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Smart and solidly entertaining, thanks to one of the year's top ensemble casts working at the top of its game.
Rotten: Clooney does a good job opening up the ideas Willimon first explored onstage, but the result is still a pessimistic truth so universally acknowledged that it doesn't bear repeating, however stylishly.
Fresh: This is intelligent filmmaking, and a provocative moral fable. It may not be perfect, but it stands as one of the better, most realistic movies about the way we elect our leaders.
Fresh: As for Clooney, when he steps from behind the camera, his candidate exudes an easy, judicious authority.
A SOLID, INTELLIGENT POLITICAL PIECE
I've never been that big a fan of movies revolving around politics, but I decided to make an exception for "The Ides of March". The film featured a huge ensemble cast, including Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and director George Clooney. So being a sucker for practically any flick starring big-name, Oscar-worthy actors, I ended up seeing it with a few friends and, for the most part, we were really impressed. The acting was skillfully emotional and convincing, the score by Alexander Desplat was suitably intense, and the screenplay was often smart and relevant. But perhaps what most struck a chord with me throughout the movie was its phenomenal character study. Gosling does an outstanding job with his role as Stephen Meyers, the junior campaign manager for Mike Morris (Clooney), the last-standing Democratic presidential candidate. Starring as a young, optimistic hotshot who gets caught in the middle of a dirty political scandal he can't get himself out of, Gosling portrays his character with sad-eyed intensity and surprising depth. Clooney also gives an inexplicably committed performance as Morris, who'll do whatever it takes in order to become the next president. Even Hoffman as Paul Zara (Morris' senior campaign manager and Meyers' superior and mentor) delivers his role with commendable credibility. However, there are some problems in the film that could've been greatly improved. The story, for one, attempts to be something completely original when it's already been executed (often much better) in so many other movies before. Plus, the screenplay can take a startlingly long time to pick up any momentum at times, and the film itself doesn't exactly do much to expose any revelatory truths about politics in general. But other than those missteps, I can't say I wasn't pleased with "The Ides of March". Overall, it's an entertaining, supremely well-acted drama that's sure to be a hit at the Oscars. It may not be the best political film out there, but it's still worth checking out.
The film was "OK"; nothing unexpected. It felt very much like a play without a great deal of character development. You never really know the Clooney character all that well. However, the film was smart, with a good ensemble cast (Gossling clearly the standout). It just seems a little unfinished.
Decent Political Drama
George Clooney's fourth and to date best film as a director, The Ides of March is a concise, compelling, and extremely well-acted political drama. Clooney, who continues to position himself as a successor to the late Sidney Lumet and Sydney Pollack, producing mid-budget, sophisticated entertainment for adults, gives himself a supporting role: he's Governor Morris, a cool, well-groomed Democratic presidential candidate and staunch secularist promoting aggressive job creation on the campaign trail.
As the film begins, Morris is preparing for a contested, important preliminary election in Ohio, pounding the pavement and consulting with his elite brain trust, including the respected Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the ambitious, youthful Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling). Other characters on hand for what soon blossoms into a complex web of affairs, betrayals, and power plays include the perhaps untrustworthy head of Morris' opponent's campaign (Paul Giamatti), a dogged Times reporter (Marisa Tomei), a shady North Carolina senator (Jeffrey Wright) more or less selling his coveted endorsement, and a sexy, naive Morris campaign intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood).
The film, co-written by Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, is based on the play Farragut North by Willimon. Clooney the director is not able to completely overcome the filmed-play feel--everything is rather insular--but he compensates by drawing terrific performances from the entire cast and generating a significant level of cynicism-laced suspense in the second and third acts.
Of the various performances, I found myself drawn most to Hoffman and Giamatti, expertly playing two jaded political vets at war yet again, believing they know every angle and every possibility. An illusion-shattering dressing down Giamatti gives the hungry upstart played by Gosling in the third act is a definite highlight. At times the fast-paced, literate, masculine, maybe slightly overwrought dialogue recalls the style of Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network).
The entire picture is defined by a certain economy. It says what it needs to say and not a great deal more, and the 101 minute running time flies by. The overall experience isn't overwhelming, and the final message--politics can be a dirty, soul-numbing game, its players oft hypocrites or worse--is nothing new, but it is delivered here with pointed intelligence by a world-class cast.