The Ides of March

Art & Culture

I love political films. I think Clooney is a great star, and a fine director. I adore Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Gosling, Jeffrey Wright and Marisa Tomei. This is my kind of film, and even though it's not perfect, it's a lot better than 90% of everything else out there.

Gosling plays the central character, young political genius Stephen Meyers, who's masterminding the Presidential campaign of Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) under the eagle eye of Paul Zara (Hoffman) a seasoned political operative. Morris is every Democrat's dream, savvy, charming and with a right on agenda. If he wins the Ohio primary against a fallible rival, he's a shoo in for The White House. And of course there's a but… The entry point of doubt is Tom Duffy (Giamatti), the man behind Morris's rival. He gives Stephen a call, and before we know it, things are getting both sticky and hairy. Beware the Ides Of March indeed.

The film is essentially one man's journey from idealism to pragmatism, and in that sense this is a cynical film. Clooney said he deferred making it until well into Obama's presidency. Three years ago this kind of film would have felt inappropriate, now it feels timely. Tomei's character, journalist Ida Horowicz gives Stephen the heads up right at the beginning of the film; however much you adore Morris, remember he's a politician, but does he listen? Does he hell. Well, if he were smarter, there wouldn't be a film.

The main weakness of the film is the plotting, which verges on the laboured, or at least the mechanistic. But I can forgive that because the dialogue, the moral dilemmas and the machination of the variously wonderful characters meant that I was happy to go with the flow. Some people like horror movies, scifi movies, or even, god forbid, musicals. I like political thrillers. This isn't as good as Michael Clayton, which Clooney starred in (but didn't direct), but it's still an enjoyable intrigue, with a fantastic cast. When the choices are so limited (I meant cinematically, but you can also assume politically), here's something to get your teeth into.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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