Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Ides of March

Welcome back to another edition of Film Friday!  This week I decided on doing a film that’s still in theaters, to see if I could convince any of you to actually go and see it.  Ides of March is a political thriller, starring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney (who also had directing duties), which showcases a darker side of the Democratic race for an upcoming presidential election.

Steven Meyers (Gosling) is a junior campaign manager with an impressive resume working for Mike Morris (Clooney), one of the Democratic presidential candidates.  Morris is an ideological mix between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.  Both presidential candidates are trying to win Ohio, which has proved to be a crucial state in the past few elections.  The idea is whichever candidate wins Ohio, wins the candidacy.  After one particular intense debate between Morris and his opponent, Meyers gets a call from his opponent’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giametti), who asks to meet up with him at a local bar.  Meyers is offered a position working for said candidate, Senator Hoffman.  While all this is going on, Meyers also starts a sexual relationship with an intern who is working on the Morris campaign named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), who’s hiding her own secret.   All of these different events combine to tell a tale of loyalty, integrity, and politics, and leave you with this question: what lengths would you go to fight and protect something that you believe in?

Let me start this review by saying that the first thing I said after the last shot of the film was, “This was the best film I have seen in five years”.  Everything about it was film-making at its best.  From the story (which is based on the play Farragut North), the acting ensemble, the cinematography, and even the music: everything about this film was done perfectly.  The acting ensemble was one of the best I’ve ever seen.  Even with powerhouse lead actors like Gosling and Clooney, the ensemble feeling shined through.  If there is any justice left in this world, Ryan Gosling will be nominated for the best actor Oscar this upcoming award season.  He stole every scene he was in, and his character went through huge changes throughout the story, showcasing his superb acting chops.  He began the story as someone who was determined to fight and work until Mike Morris won the election, due to the fact that he believed in what Morris was saying and what he was fighting for.  By the end, after the different twists and turns the story took, he became someone who was so determined to win just to say that he won.  He became ruthless and heartless, not really caring who he trampled on to achieve his goal.  He realizes that the only goal in politics is to win and that second place is meaningless.  Another strong acting performance was Molly, played by Evan Rachel Wood.  She is definitely an up and coming actress who gave a career-making performance in her role (have you seen her in HBO’s Mildred Pierce?!)   I definitely see a long career ahead for her.  Her raw talent is reminiscent of some old-time actresses, the ones we remember for decades.

George Clooney (who I secretly hate and admire at the same time) is a genius.  His performance as a politician was very believable.  He played the role with the perfect amount of charm, and anytime he was giving a speech or taking part in a debate on-screen my eyes were drawn to him.  I think he actually exudes the amount of charisma needed to be a politician in real life.  Despite his fantastic acting, his strong point in Ides of March was his direction of the film.  The film is shot as a constant build up to the climax, becoming an explosion of all the little plot lines colliding into one.  Every scene made you anticipate the next one, leaving me on the edge of my seat for most of the film.  The story was built in such an amazing way that when it ended, I was sad because I wanted it to just continue on.  I refused to leave the theater because the film was that good;  I wanted to see more.  It is apparent that Clooney took his time with the film because every scene mattered.  It was carefully lit to expose the dramatic or the comedic parts of the story, and there was careful placement of American flags and other paraphernalia which were used to help frame the scenes.

All I can say is that you need to go see this film.  It had a strong story, strong actors, and a strong director which all blended together to make this a tour de force of a film.  I truly hope this film will be remembered come award season because it has everything that a best picture nominee should have.  As always, I leave you with a question: what do you think goes on behind the scenes in politics? After seeing this film you will definitely wonder about the candidates that you vote for.

 7 out of 5 stars

Ides of March (2011)
Cross Creek Pictures
R, 101 Minutes
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46 thoughts on “Adam’s Film Friday – A Review of Ides of March

  1. This is entertaining even if suspense barely builds and pay-off revelations come with little surprise. Clooney, as a director, is also able to draw-out amazing performances from this whole ensemble cast. Solid review.

  2. Great review! I just watched ‘The Ides of March’ for a second time over the weekend, and I still appreciated everything about it from my first viewing. The acting from all the major players, especially Ryan Gosling, who deserves to be recognized for his work, was fantastic. I thought George Clooney played his character well, but very much excelled at directing. One of the best movies of the year!

  3. You have convinced me. It amazes me how the right choice of words (impressive blogging) worked when hundreds of others reviews didn’t.
    You convinced me! ‘nuf said! 🙂

  4. George Clooney definitely excels as a director. There was some very powerful dialog in the movie – like Clooney’s response when asked about the death penalty and the Gosling’s response to Marissa Tomei -“You’re my best friend” towards the end of the movie. Overall this movie was a very enjoyable experience.

  5. I really loved this film as well. The way so many levels were playing under the surface at every given moment was a mark of brilliant storytelling.

    I wrote a short review on my blog, if you care to check it out. http://bit.ly/tYhabS

    Either way, great post! =)

  6. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the greatest experience at this movie. As much as I love Gosling, his performance felt very underwhelming. The only one who didn’t disappoint was Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’m sorry to say that George Clooney, who I used to love, has just reached a point of blandness in his career. He isn’t awful, but he isn’t interesting (or handsome)… just meh. Evan Rachel Wood, who usually does good work, seemed to fall flat with the script, which just couldn’t decide what it wanted to be or what it was trying to accomplish. I think I might be in the minority here.

  7. I found Ides of March to be so compelling because it is so reflective of how we currently perceive our government. There is no trust and a strong awareness of the “show” that plays out in the media. Even the most idealistic and optimistic of us all get caught up in the game. I saw this movie a couple weeks ago and I’m still pondering how its changed my view on politics.

  8. I agree with this review! I’ll admit I chose this movie to watch one weekend because I was having a rough work week and literally picked a movie out of a hat to go watch.

    What I think I like most about the movie was how…direct it was to the point. How Gosling’s character evolves (or devolves, depending on your point of view I guess). I was shocked when the movie was over! It wasn’t drawn out and it kept me interested throughout.

  9. I have seen the trailers on youtube… Cant wait for this to be released out here in India and I am hoping it does get released! else download the only option 😛

    Excellent review by the way…

  10. I saw it tonight and couldn’t agree more! Heavier and more thought provoking than I had expected, but the mood was awkwardly lightened by the fact that the whole audience chuckled at the DC references (where the theater was located — we’ve all had at least a small taste of politics in this town). Great movie.

  11. I have the same question when will it release in south Asia? And no one can really understand what ‘s going on a politician’s mind! so faithful and patriotic politicians in any country of the world do exist but they are rare in numbers. You can’t judge a politician’s politics by seeing a side of his or her way of politics.

  12. Yea, this film was great. I really like that it highlights one’s own doubts(why did he meet with his sworn enemy). Life isn’t always as it seems. His vision was pure, sincere, earnest and real and then it wasn’t. Nine stars. Thanks.

  13. I saw the movie this week-end and I thought it was your typical Liberal/Progressive
    spin on: sure the Democrats are low life conivers, but so what? It is still better
    than the alternative of having a Republican/Conservative win. No wonder
    Fox News is becoming so popular. Hollywood elite as well as the main
    stream media and academic intelligentcia be damned. There is an alternative
    viewpoint. By most polls these views are shared by as many as 40% of the electorate.

    I should have gone to see “Atlas Shrugged”. But where is it playing?

  14. Great review. I just wanted to say that I saw the movie about 3 weeks ago and I completely agree that it was done perfectly. One of the best I’ve seen in a long time. I also think that Ryan Gosling is an underrated superstar and a tremendous actor!

  15. Hi Adam, I was anxious to see this film for so many reasons: George Cloony & his politics being the motivating factors. Paul Giametti & Seymor Hoffman are both GREAT actors. It was a well written story, but ultimately it felt too well written. Do you know what I mean? The synchronicity was just too convenient. I left the film feeling that we’ve all sold out to something & someone. It was uninspiring and only too real. The use of Ohio & the black politician is right out of 2004 w/ Ken Harrison, the black attorney general who tuns his back on blacks being turned away from the polls on election day.

    Go see Contagion and watch how that story unfolds. I think it’s a better story. The craft of storytelling is put to better use here.

    Thanks for your review. I enjoyed reading it. Maybe my reaction is more about being older & more jaded. So it goes

  16. I, too, was very impressed with this film. I was born and raised here in Cincinnati, so, to be honest, I initially went to see it just because it was filmed in my hometown. Boy, was I blown away!! Clooney is one hell of a director.

  17. I will probably watch this movie beacuse of Ryan Gosling (♥), but I was not so sure about all the ultra-patriotic-Obama/Clinton feelings – not very attractive for non-Americans. But this is a convincing review, for sure, so I’m buying it. Theaters in Brazil, anytime?

  18. Pingback: The Ides of March – Film Review | The Cycling Monkey

  19. Good review.
    I am not sure I agree with everything you say – for instance, I found Gosling’s performance underwhelming and the soundtrack curiously annoying. I also found that Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti are the performers who really deliver this film, despite only hanging around for two or three scenes each.
    That said, I agree it’s one of the best films of the year.

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