The Ides of March (2011)
Director: George Clooney
Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Based On: “Farragut North” (Play) By: Beau Willimon
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 101 minutes
USA Release: 10/7/2011
On DVD (USA): 1/17/2012
Awards: 1 Academy Award Nomination, 2 BAFTA Award Nominations, 4 Golden Globe Nominations
Getting a nice welcome back from his directors chair, George Clooney brings us his 4th turn calling the shots this time with the political thriller “The Ides of March” based on Beau Willimon’s 2008 play “Farragut North”. But the question is will this widely successful ensemble cast that includes Clooney be able to keep audiences on the edge of their seats with great performances and an interesting story? Yes, I believe they can.
“The Ides of March” follows the Democratic Primary in which Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) and Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell) are battling to take the lead in Ohio. They story shows the behind of the scenes of Mike Morris campaign from interviews to attempting to enlist supporters which is all handled by Morris’s Senior and Junior Campaign Managers Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling). But as things begin to look good for Morris, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) who is the Campaign Manager for Senator Pullman begins to work to get Stephen over on his side and after a meeting things begin to unravel as information once hidden gets brought forward that might change everything.
The structure of “The Ides of March” is very simple but the underlining stories are what keeps this film moving and fresh in our minds. George Clooney did a fantastic job of keeping the same formula and pace used by it’s play counterpart, you can almost picture this cast on stage instead of on screen. And because Clooney is also an actor himself his directing is more precise because he knows how to get what he needs from his actors. Clooney was a very busy man having direct and act in this, and also co-wrote it with Grant Heslov and the original playwright Beau Willimon. The three of them really delivered a great political thriller, dealing with instead of things we can see during a political race, things we can’t, diving behind-the-scenes with his Campaign Managers and how they are actually more ruthless then the candidates are themselves. Though some of the story is predictable there are just enough twist and turns to keep everything fresh and entertaining. It keeps true to the aspects of a Political race with a lot of realism and truth. They even make a small reference to the original play and even have small underlining connections to “Julius Cesar” that shares the same paranoia and betrayal, and no the famous line “Beware the Ides of March” is not said but is implied within the film and also of course the title of the film itself.
Like with any film you need a great cast to really tell the story and this is just the cast to do that, filled with many award winning actors and actresses Clooney really got the right group. Jeffery Wright and Max Minghella have relatively small roles in this but when they are on screen they do a great job. George Clooney surprisingly wasn’t seen a whole lot in this, although the film’s story deals with him we mostly just interact with him in some scattered scenes throughout and in little montage like clips, but he is very kind and at the same time very threatening and Clooney delivers all of that calmness and tension very well. Like Clooney, Marisa Tomei and Paul Giamatti also have surprisingly minimal roles, Tomei who plays the journalist who will do anything and I mean anything to get a scoop, does it with great sereneness and patience. Giamatti on the other hand plays with you as much as he does the other characters in the film and he was the prefect actor to be the one to do it. Evan Rachel Wood is ok in this role, I mean she has the acting chops but I think she might have not been the best choice for the role. Also her character kind of doesn’t make any sense with the way she falls into certain situations, especially with who her father is and the environment she obviously have been apart of her whole life. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the best thing about this film, between his character and his acting everything is just perfect when it comes to Hoffman. His character is the Senior Campaign Manager and although he seems to be an easy going guy he also has a ruthless side but you can’t even see that coming because of his confident calmness. And as for the star, Ryan Gosling he like the rest of the cast does a excellent job, he plays the Junior Campaign Manager and although he thinks his believes are set in stone we see as his slow paranoia takes the better of him. Gosling does a great job of keeping up the thriller part of the plot, always looking over his shoulder suspiciously. Like many of the great actors and actresses, Gosling too has great chemistry with who ever is sharing a scene with him, he has this great confidence about himself that also lies with the character.
Overall “The Ides of March” delivers a great political thriller although there are a couple of aspect that will be a bit predictable. The film succeeds because of it’s stylish directing, great writing and excellent cast that delivers some great performances. It’s might not be a film for everyone, but those that enjoy these type of film will find solace in it’s accuracy and realism.