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Solid, realistic political melodrama - not a thriller
dfranzen708 October 2011
The Ides of March isn't a story just about the back-alley dealings of those seeking to gain power; it's a morality tale of how much one must wrestle between doing things because he feels they are the right thing to do and doing things that will serve themselves better in the long run. It is a political melodrama, but it just as easily have been written about business and high finance. It's highly cynical, with its points driven home by a terrific cast, and yet it manages not to be heavy handed or preachy. Indeed, there aren't really any strictly good or bad guys in this movie.

Ryan Gosling stars as Steven Myers, a top aide to Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney), who is running for president; currently at stake is the battleground state of Ohio. If Morris can gain Ohio's delegates, he's pretty much assured to get the Democratic nomination, and in the film it's noted that the Republicans have a weak field themselves (at best). All of this means, of course, that as Ohio goes, so goes the presidency, so there's plenty riding on this one primary.

Morris' campaign manager is Paul Zara, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, a veteran of many cutthroat campaigns. And although Zara has the experience, Morris often turns to his young(ish) aide Steven to gain a less-jaded, more-truthful perspective. (Of course, by doing so, Morris is simply trying to hear from someone who may not be thinking four years or fewer down the road at his next job.) Like most staffers, Steven believes in Morris; he thinks that if the man is elected president, good things will happen. He is the prototypical idealistic aide; doing the right thing will win out over all, he believes. He's not completely naive to backdoor politics, but his organization, his analysis, his acumen, and his spirit are what endear Morris to him.

Even though Steven is not a Mr. Perfect, a self-righteous do-gooder, he's savvy; he knows which buttons to push. He learns, though, that his chief obstacle to success is in recognizing whom is trustworthy, and just because one is friends with another doesn't mean that either owes the other much when it comes to the game of politics. For example, simply feeding the press (in the person of Marisa Tomei) the occasional tidbit doesn't mean that the media will be an extended PR arm for Morris.

Somewhere along the line, Steven reaches a breaking point, a place at which loyalty isn't the most important thing on his plate. This point comes as a result of two pretty bad decisions, one that he knows is a bad idea right away and another that seems a little more innocent – but then Steven has underestimated how petty, parochial, and vindictive those in the business can be. It's all about one's level of paranoia. You have to have some in order to foresee problems, but too much of it will hollow out your soul in a jiffy.

Clooney, who also directed, looks and sounds presidential, but he's not the focus of the movie; as with his brilliant Good Night, and Good Luck, he's a powerful supporting character. Things don't revolve around Mike Morris as they do around Steven Myers, and that's one reason the movie works – our focus is on the morality battle, and it's presumed that as a sitting governor, that battle's long been over for Morris.

The hand-picked cast is superb. Not only do we get Clooney, Hoffman, Tomei, and Gosling, we also get Paul Giamatti as the governor's opponent's campaign manager. Each one seems to steal scenes, even ones they share. Even Evan Rachel Wood, as a new intern in Morris' camp, turns in a splendid performance.

It's clear that The Ides of March won't be for everyone. It is, as I said, cynical – highly so. It won't leave you hopeful about, well, anything. It gives you no one for whom to really cheer and yet no one for whom to really despise. It offers realism in lieu of hope, and its goal of trying to explain the motivations of those who get involved in these campaigns is reached. It's an effective, gripping melodrama.
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Et tu, Brute
ferguson-68 October 2011
Greetings again from the darkness. Political thrillers can be so juicy and filled with "gotcha" moments and "oh how could he/she" scenes. Inevitably, most come down to an "I believed in you" showdown and reckoning. This latest one based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, gives George Clooney an opportunity to play out his political aspirations without opening himself to the real thing.

Clooney also directs and the smartest move he made was assembling an ensemble cast of some of the best actors working today. Clooney plays Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris, who is one of two still-standing Democratic Presidential contenders on the verge of the Ohio primary. His Campaign Manager is grizzled campaign veteran Paul, played with staunch principals and black and white rule book by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Their talented and idealistic Press Secretary Stephen is played by Ryan Gosling. Their opponent's manager Tom Duffy is played by Paul Giamatti. Duffy oozes cynicism and seems to have lost the rule book that Paul holds so dearly.

The film begins with the set-up so we get a feel for just how strong or weak of character each of these men are. Morris (Clooney) is obviously an Obama-type idealist who claims his religion is the US Consitution. He says this while gently poking fun at his opponent's Christian beliefs. We see just how talented Stephen (Gosling) character is at handling the words that Clooney speaks and we see Paul (PSH) in full back room politico maneuvering.

The film has two huge points where the mood swings. The first is a contrived, definite no-no meeting between the ambitious Stephen and the shrewd Duffy. The second is a sequence between Stephen and a 20 year old campaign intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), who also happens to be the daughter of the Chairman of the DNC. These two events turn the film from political thriller to melodramatic Hollywood fare. That doesn't make it less of a movie, it's just different than it began.

Cat and mouse games ensue and we see just who is the master manipulator amongst a group of professionals. This is one of those films where the individual pieces are actually more interesting than the whole pie. There are two really excellent exchanges between Gosling and Hoffman. Ms. Wood steals her scenes with ease. Jeffrey Wright nails his brief time as a desperate Senator negotiating the best deal possible. Giamatti's last scene with Gosling is a work of art. The only thing missing is a confrontation between Giamatti and Hoffman. THAT alone would be worth the price of admission.

You might be surprised that Clooney actually minimizes the political meanderings, though he does get in a few jabs at the Republicans. This is more character drama ... how far can your ideals and morals carry you. What is your breaking point? Where is the line between realist and idealist? Is it betrayal if you act for the right reason? The final shot of film is superb. Et tu, Brute.
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The games people play to get ahead, not necessarily in politics, but within themselves
napierslogs7 October 2011
George Clooney is running for President. Well, I mean, in "The Ides of March," as Governor Mike Morris, he's running for the Democratic Presidential nomination. He's the good guy and his opponent is the bad guy. Because that's how it is supposed to be, right? The opponent's campaign manager is played by the ever-shady Paul Giamatti, while Morris' campaign is championed by the young, handsome idealistic Stephen (Ryan Gosling).

This is about politics, the games people play to get ahead, and the types of people who get played—that's the interesting part. The refreshing part, is that this isn't about election night and who is going to win and who is going to lose. A few poll numbers are rattled off, but it's mostly about what is going to happen to our heroes (or anti-heroes) and what are they going to do in response. When you look like Clooney and Gosling, it's hard not to be the hero, but remember, this is politics and nobody is really a hero in that mess.

People make mistakes. I enjoyed following Stephen as he struggled internally with his path forward. He believes in the good of the Governor. He's smart and passionate and makes a good campaign manager. His mistakes seem minor and understandable. The problem is, he's 30. He's at the in-between age, where he's half young-college-student-ready-to-take-over-the-world and half experienced-cynic. Those are two very combative halves and when they come at odds within him, the character takes some shocking and drastic turns.

The few references to actual political gaffes are obvious and just done for comic relief. All the clever lines are stolen by Giamatti, who, I am predicting, will come away with the only acting nomination for the film. Although, the brilliant character work – that's done by everybody, and is what makes "The Ides of March" so intriguing.
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politics with shocks and twists
antoniotierno23 December 2011
Ryan Gosling's at his best in dramatic roles and there's no exception here. As things unravel - that happens quickly thanks to the intense plot - Gosling decides that his ambitions are so important that he'll be willing willing to lose his soul. George Clooney has a very strong appeal, he's very convincing, his acting being almost perfect. "Ides of March" has very few flaws, the twists in the plot are not predictable and overall doesn't have any problems connecting with the viewers. Eventually, though there's no character to empathize with, the audience has the impression of a notable film noir, challenging us to come to terms with what politics is nowadays. I've seen intelligent filmmaking and a provocative moral fable.
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Very professional but doesn't have the sharpness or intelligence it suggests it does
bob the moo25 April 2012
You came here from the trailers and the clever poster campaign? Or maybe you came here because you love Clooney and the idea of him doing a political film appeals to you because you agree with much of what he puts his name behind? Or maybe you just decided to watch on a whim? Well for me it was the first two that put it in my mind but the third that saw me pick this from the queue recently. The publicity leave you in little doubt that this is a smart political movie while the names involved all point to something that is worth your time, expensive and very professionally put together. In terms of these latter qualities the film does deliver but it is just a shame that it is not as good as it looks in regards the former.

Let's deal with the superficial first. The film looks great and Clooney deserves credit for the job he has done here as it has a real sheen to it with really well designed shots and a real richness to the look (credit to the cinematographer of course). On top of this the score is just right – a little generic in its tone perhaps but it works and fits the film well. Naturally the cast features a collection of names and faces for whom quality is the norm and generally the film looks and feels like it is a really good product. The only place where it falls down is that it isn't quite as smart as it thinks it is. The story is fairly straightforward and the "message" (if that is the word) is equally simple; this puts a lot of pressure on the lead character of Meyers to be engaging and thrilling in his journey into the murky compromises and twists of politics – and this is the problem, it doesn't come over that way.

The solid plot holds the attention and the sleek presentation feels like velvet throughout but the real meat of the story here needs to come through Meyers and sadly the material just doesn't make this happen. In terms of narrative he has it, but in terms of heart and soul of the man, it is lacking and as a result the film is lacking. It shows in Gosling's performance; he is a good presence, easy to look at and follow but he doesn't have enough within him to lift the film. I watched A Single Man the other day, in which Colin Firth delivered a great and nuanced performance that carried that entire film – this needed Gosling to do that, but he didn't and/or couldn't with what he was given. Clooney is good in an easier role as are Hoffman, Giamatti, Tomei, Wright and others but they are the dressing around Gosling's character and as good as they look, they cannot hide the fact that the centrepiece just isn't as good as the trimmings suggest.

It isn't a bad film, indeed I quite enjoyed it as it went along, but it is a lot less satisfying than it looks like it will be. Really professional and polished but the heart of the message doesn't come out and the central character doesn't deliver as they should. Solid, but neither as sharp or as smart as it thinks it is or as it should have been.
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No heroes, no villains, just real human beings - and what could be scarier?
jburtroald9530 December 2011
Corruption is such a nasty word. It is universally steeped in negative connotation, and is a term applied theoretically to a selfish, unjust misuse of power. Yet, realistically, this evil becomes hard to determine, and many attempts at justification can be made using alternate terms, such as "motivated" or "single-minded". Many of the best social dramas have explored this ambiguous area: in House of Sand and Fog (2003) an unfairly biased policeman was put to work, for once, for the supposed sympathetic protagonist, but we still didn't find it excusable; more recently, in the fiercely intense Contagion, the top doctor leaked confidential information in order to place his wife's chances of survival above the others – in this case, we can understand his position, but the injustice at hand here is still undeniable.

It is very unfortunate in society that the places where corruption is most prevalent are those in which justice and citizenship is supposed to be the absolute goal. Contagion and other similar films expose this in the medical industry, films like L.A Confidential (1997) in the police force, and now George Clooney, as both writer and director, has brought us another razor-sharp political drama that reveals how cutthroat and sinister working in the government can be, even if creating a "free world" is purportedly the overall goal.

Ryan Gosling portrays another robust yet ultimately inadequate young businessman attempting to excel in a challenging line of work. In Fracture (2007) it was the legal system, where, again, his character, Willy Beachum, faced this same temptation when his partners urged him to falsify evidence in order to put away a fiend that they knew to be guilty, yet could find no proof against. Willy resisted admirably, but Stephen Meyers, his more competent yet far less righteous character in The Ides of March, has rather weak moral resolve. He is the talented and favoured staffer of presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), a man whose political philosophies he genuinely supports, and is very anxious to see become president. However, Morris is a man who sticks firmly to his principles and is unwilling to make a strategic compromise. It is an insistence that frustrates Stephen, and indeed his entire team as they see guaranteed victory is within their grasp if he only concedes to endorse the slightly disagreeable Senator Thompson (although neither Jeffrey Wright nor Clooney exactly make it clear what it is that Morris dislikes about him). It is a case of breaking a few eggs to make a good cake, and as Morris continues refusing to do so, pressures mount, the opposition begins to gain the upper hand, and a highly riveting series of complications arises.

Audiences will be happy to hear that they will not have to sit through a ridiculous amount of dry, technical passages of dialogue, sift through needlessly enigmatic storytelling methods and poke and prod their way through murky themes in order to find value in the film. The broader ideas are not all it has to offer, but lie over the top of the solid story foundations to be properly examined upon the reflection that takes place after viewing, as they should. This piece also works as a slickly entertaining, enthralling crime thriller. For while the intricate world of politics can arguably be likened to a game of chess, as it is in the film, the pieces are not stone figures, they are real people whose entire lives become ruined when they are captured by the opposing side/ Seeing as beyond the point of the Senator Thompson dilemma, the plot involves a string of juicy surprises, I shouldn't really reveal much more. All I will say is that Paul Giamati, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei all give exceptional performances as the key figures involved, and that each of their characters, and at one stage or another, harbours a deadly secret.

Clooney's direction is remarkably apt, particularly in a wordless scene in which Hoffman's character is given aggravating news from Morris inside his car, and we become cheeky onlookers from the outside, not even seeing their faces. He has also done well adapting beau Willimon's play Farrugat North with the help of Oscar-nominated screenplay writer Grant Henslov (Good Night, and Good Luck) and the playwright himself. His performance as Morris is fine work also, but, for the common audience at least, the film really belongs to Gosling, who proves once again that he is more than just an exceptionally handsome teen idol, but the most convincing and versatile young actor since Johnny Depp, with Max Minghella (The Social Network) and Jennifer Ehle topping things off beautifully as part of the supporting cast.
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Great setup. No punchline.
lillolablue20 February 2013
This movie is like that joke you heard on the bus from some kid you didn't know when you were in grade school. It has a really elaborate setup, and you're really excited to get to the punchline, but when you hear it. the whole thing falls flat.

Because the setup for this movie is really good. You've got a maverick politician running against a traditional party hack, whose candidacy had energized not just the hopeful young interns on his staff, but also his jaded, faded, seen-it-all manager. And he's given a new hope to his junior campaign manager, and idealistic young man who was beginning to lose faith in the political system.

There's even a cute subplot about Our Hero getting involved with a perky little intern who is even younger and more idealistic than he is.

Of course, as soon as you see this setup, you know that the perfect candidate is going to do something perfectly awful to bring everyone's hopes crashing down. You settle in for a political thriller and wait for the bodies, literally or figuratively, to pile up.

And then?

Nothing really happens, and what little that happens is wholly unbelievable.

Without dropping any big spoilers, I can tell you that the perfectly awful thing would-be President Clooney does is the kind of rookie mistake that a man of his age, intelligence and political sophistication would never make. This is the kind of trouble high school boys get into on Friday nights.

Not only that, as perfectly awful things go, it's a pretty pedestrian mistake, and one that would be easy to sweep under the rug.

From this point on, the movie piles one unbelievable and unrealistic episode of top of another, and this great setup is lost in a farrago of events that strain our suspension of disbelief.

The most ridiculous of which is when a character that might as well have "Party-Line Sleazeball" tattooed on his forehead passes up a chance to blow his opponent's candidacy out of the water.

I can tell that this movie wants to teach me that no matter what their rhetoric is, all politicians are amoral finks; a bunch of conniving, backstabbing predators who will do and say anything to get elected and stay in power.

Yeah, I think most people got the memo on that during the Nixon Administration, and Tricky Dick's successors haven't really done much since 1974 to make us think otherwise.

Movie, even if you have nothing new to say, shouldn't you have at least said the same old thing in a better way?

It's a real shame that this movie turns out to be a whole lot of nothing going on, because the performances are very good and the actors are all extremely well cast. I'm giving it four stars for the structure and the performances.

Bottom line? I saw the first half hour of what promised to be a really great movie, and then the movie spent the last half hour breaking that promise, and delivering to me on a bright, shiny platter with the 2010's written all over it some old news from the 70's.

If you have to see everything that Ryan Gosling, or George Clooney or Phillip Seymour Hoffmann are in, because you are a big fan of one or more of them, see this movie for their performances. If not, skip it, because, trust me, you've seen this all before, and written a whole lot better.
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Good acting but disappointing ending in my books
jucie368918 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The movie's premise is a good one. Coming at a time when America is rich with political strife, the ideas of march brings a few key issues to light and attempts to wrap it all up in a pretty bow, with a couple twists and turns along the way. I enjoyed the first half of the movie. The writing in on point as is the acting. Given the star studded cast you would expect nothing less. It gives you a sense that there could be some good politicians out there, ones willing to stand by their morals and principals and change the great United states of America. It covers such topics as our reliance on oil, our religious debates as well as gender classification, gay rights and abortion. It pretty much touches on so many topics that every single person in the audience will find themselves at one point or another personally vested in it's outcome. It does a good job keeping you wondering. Where it loses me is the ending. Nothing irks me more than a movie that doesn't take ownership of it's plot and grant the viewer the courtesy of an ending. Now albeit I was disappointed with Inceptions ending as well, which I know is not in agreeance with a lot of people. Personally I just felt let down when Ryan Goslings character never reaches the final climax. He sits down- looks at the camera and that's it. I get it, the premise is he's going to out the whole scandal and you can argue that the title of the movie alludes this but I'm sorry, I just feel let down and robbed that the writer/director didn't think enough of me to shoot that final scene.
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Felix-285 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry, but this one clunked from beginning to end.

Let's start with the plot. Idealistic staffer for presidential candidate is tempted to the other side. Then a silly girl suicides because her lover, the candidate, disappoints her. One is tempted to ask what she expected, especially as she's from a political family and is also a staffer for the same candidate: hasn't she heard of Monica? Then candidate denies having known her, to the great disappointment of Mr Idealist. Again, what did he expect?

Acting? It's OK, but I never found myself caring for a single moment what happened to any of the characters, not Mr Idealist, not the silly girl, and certainly not presidential candidate Clooney, whose only policy seemed to be some ridiculous waffle about renewable energy.

I was bored about two minutes after this started and it never got any better. Just totally unconvincing from beginning to end.
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I'd suggest you see Ides, film buffs; although more of a triple than a home run, the cast is superlative and the direction very fine
inkblot115 October 2011
Stephen (Ryan Gosling) is a razor-sharp, rising star political media consultant. Presently, he is working on Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris' (George Clooney) campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Steve-o has only one man above him, overall campaign manager Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two consult each other daily. The governor has a single chief competitor, an Arkansas senator with his own astute adviser, Tom (Paul Giamatti). At the moment, the Ohio primary is looming and the staff is working out of Cincinnati. One of the governor's lower-level workers is beautiful Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), the daughter of the present head of the National Democratic Party. Only 20, she is just learning the ropes. One day, she makes a pass at Stephen and he responds positively. But, he makes it clear to her that politics is his passion and, especially, Mike Morris, his idol. Indeed, Morris is handsome, smart, and appears to speak sincerely and clearly to potential voters. Yet, very soon after their first encounter, Molly drops a bombshell on Stephen. It is a stunning piece of news, one that could knock the earth off its axis. Also, amazingly, Tom has been courting Stephen to "switch sides" while a respected, determined journalist, Ida (Marisa Tomei) is eager for any and all campaign stories. A cauldron of conflicting genuine and perceived realities is brewing. What will be the result? This is a fine film, based on a stage play, and directed by Mr. Clooney. While the story is more predictable in nature, the script has some great lines and Clooney's direction is quite, quite admirable. This is particularly true of the performances he draws from the cast, with Gosling, Hoffman, Giamatti, Tomei, Clooney himself, and especially Wood giving great turns. All the film's amenities, from sets, costumes, and camera work, are also nice. If you are a discriminating film buff, who loves quality flicks with ample discussion points, then I'd suggest you see Ides at your earliest convenience.
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Great start to a disappointing movie
gigadragon128 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The Ides of March is a political thriller about the Democratic Primary in Ohio at the start of a political rally for who will eventually be nominated to run for President. Political Manager Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is top of his game as new presidential candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney) looks to be well on his way to winning the Ohio primary. However, several moves on the political spectrum, and a surprise controversy uncovered part way through, shake the idealistic Myers to his core, and puts him knee deep in a race for the primary with his candidate as the target to lose it all.

Sounds great right? Well it could have been – 7.5 / 10 What Clooney wants with this film is something that was just accomplished by the film Contagion only a few months ago, in short, he wants to realistically represent what actually goes on behind all the media storm and speeches, what really goes into the hearts of the political campaigners as they battle for the chance to win the presidential spot for their party. And the film certainly starts well enough in that spectrum.

But a fundamental shift halfway through the film or so. It goes from realistically portraying the events that take place, to suddenly becoming something much more emotional. What happens isn't so much unbelievable as it is badly placed in a movie that does not seem to want to tell a story as much as make a statement. Instead what it does is tell a story and says to hell with the statement, but still wants to act like it is making a statement.

This is because it goes from realistic to emotional. Contagion worked because it portrayed an outbreak realistically, the emotional parts were limited and had more to do with people being people rather than ever replacing the logical and clockwork functions of a virus, which is clockwork. This movie decides that a logical game of chess (politics, same thing) can be completely destroyed because a pawn has a heart attack.

The real issue is the twist itself and that's stepping into spoilerville. Essentially, so much melodrama is suddenly demanded from one simple scene, that it throws the intelligent and logical viewpoint of the movie so completely off track that it doesn't remember that this is supposed to be a movie about politics and works on more spectrums than just the one going on behind people's bedroom doors.

But at least the acting was great. You hear a lot about Gosling's performance in the lead role, but the greats take the cake, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti are so empowered as the heads of their candidates' political campaigns and knowing so much more than Gosling, that you would be more impressed if you hadn't seen them in better movies doing better roles.

All that banter and ranting being said, Ides of March could have been a great movie had it kept its head and tried to offer an acceptable reason for the dirty game of politics, rather than amounting to a few too many cookies missing from the cookie jar. Their reasoning focuses too much on the antics of one type of scandal, rather than the true strategic meanderings of people, media, and candidates. The movie actually leaves us much like Gosling at the end, disappointed, confused, and wondering at what point our true expectations got left behind and converted without us even knowing about it.
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Somewhat two-dimensional and rushed expose of cynical political practice
pfgpowell-13 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The odd thing about The Ides Of March is that, in a way, it ends halfway through. It is about the blooding of a young deputy campaign manager and his rather brutal initiation into some of the darker arts of running a presidential campaign (in this case the campaign of a state governor who wants the Democratic nomination). That campaign manager, Ryan Gosling, who does not seem especially naive when it all gets going, is transformed before our eyes from a reasonably idealistic man into all that he would previously have despised: we meet him when he insists that he is working for the governor (George Clooney, who also directed and co-wrote the film) because his boss wants to do all the right things - save the planet, stop going to war, that kind of thing. But by the end of the film (which can only have been a week later in the film's time) he has resorted to blackmailing the governor not only into sacking his top campaign manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and appointing him instead, but in accepting the endorsement and votes of a state senator the Clooney character despises, who will play ball and help the governor get electedn on the promise that he will be made the new Secretary of State. And that, really, is it.

I'd like to think that the 'message' of Clooney's new film is not 'my, my, but isn't politics dirty'. But then if that isn't the message what is? Is gorgeous George really trying to tell us to 'watch out - water's wet!' And that is a slight problem with The Ides Of March. A more complete film would have used what we are given more or less as a prologue to the full story. Taking the Shakespearean allusion just a stage further, if the full story is the tragedy of Stephen Myers (Gosling's character), Clooney's film gives us only the first two acts. What happens next? That is what I want to know.

I have no trouble at all in accepting that a previously idealistic man can have the stuffing knocked out of him and be transformed into the kind of cynical bastard his boss and his boss's rival are. But that transformation does happen almost in the twinkle of an eye, and we are given no reference points in the Gosling character which would indicate that it has all been brewing up for some time. In fact, the film goes out of its way to show him as decent and upright. I have no way of knowing personally, but if the kind of down and dirty muck-raking and wheeler-dealing shown in is not par for the course in politics, I'll eat my hat. And it would be pretty naive to expect the viewer to accept that it is all a bit exceptional but that otherwise our politicians are good men and women and true.

Apart from that flaw, this is an engrossing and entertaining film with some great performances. Unfortunately, the flaw does loom rather large in my reactions.
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Worth it, but funny aftertaste....
gbacquet8 December 2011
It's difficult to write a review about this film. It's so full of contradictions (artistic and otherwise) that it leaves you with a funny aftertaste. The film is about an idealistic young man working as a consultant for a campaigning politician and the conflicts and dichotomies he has to face if he wants to remain whole and with his integrity unbroken. Purely from the filmmaking standpoint, the movie will remind you of political thrillers of the 70s made by Alan J. Pakula or Sydney Pollack. It's beautifully shot, has a great script, a very ad-hoc music score, great performances by everyone involved. The way the story and main character evolved, however, lacked coherence and at one point I was under the impression I was watching a fragment of a different movie. Somehow it went from A to D, skipping B and C altogether. That alone changed my viewing experience from fully satisfying to one that, as I said at the beginning, left a funny aftertaste. The movie is more of a character study than a political thriller per se; as the former, it works mainly because of the performances by actors who are able to convey the inner conflicts they face. As the latter, don't expect to be taken aback with unpredictable twists or edge-of-your-seat suspense, because you won't find those here. I give it a 7/10.
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Great movie, if it was made in 1965
kimba117817 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Let me start by stating that I do not need a movie to be filled with foul-mouthed, currently PC dialect, or trends at all. With that said, I'm sorry but I found The Ides of March outdated. I was looking forward to an intelligent, political film. This film had absolutely nothing new to offer. Other than pretty leading stars and the always solid backup of Giamatti and Hoffman, I cannot understand the nominations. The story line would have been interesting in the 1960's, not 2011. It seems to me that if you are going to rehash a politician with a squeaky-clean reputation cheating with an intern, at this point there also needs to be some deeper insight or intrigue to the story, otherwise it's a big "why bother?". The interns fate is right out of novels from the early 20th century. They may have explored the Senator's side of the story more; something, anything, to make this relevant to tell again. Like many women, I have no problem looking at Mr. Gosling for 1 1/2 hours- but best screenplay? I'm sure there are many more deserving.
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Poor plot and average acting
james_7-121-16398512 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Well we see George Clooney play himself yet again. There is no real acting talent at all and the plot is thin an weak. Ryan Gosling, on the other hand does put in a credible performance as his aid. Ryan finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place however it is not enough to save this very average film. The way in which the dirty side of politics is portrayed is given some credence here and that may be its saving grace.

By the time the end of the film had rolled around I was bored and then to see this long shot of Ryans face hiding the anguish due to his actions was really quite pathetic. I wondered if the director had run out of ideas and was trying to make the drama stronger with this quite silly closing shot.

If you are really bored, have nothing at all better to do then it might be worth a look but really you would have to be at your wits end to see this film.
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Could have been better
gregory-186-84777215 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Outstanding performances by Giamatti and Hoffman as is nearly everything they do. Ides of March starts off with high energy looking forward to the make or break state presidential primary. It could have kept us in suspense as we watched political intrigue and the drama of back dealing unfold from both sides. Instead we watch Ryan Gosling's affair with an intern become the center of a silly who slept with who. Unbelievably, Mr. Goslings character who is supposedly politically savvy beyond his years commits a blunder one would expect of a teenager. After that happened Ides of March no longer held interest. Admittedly, the last five minutes did redeem the dull middle somewhat.
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Politics On-screen
TroyeEvans3 February 2012
And to talk about alternate thrillers, put this next to also Academy Award-nominated "Margin Call" for screenplay you easily spot the difference, both in the quality of performances and the power of the script. This thriller-drama revolves around Stephen (Ryan Gosling), a smart staffer for a campaign who learns the true face of politics the quick way.

The script is captivating and it draws the audience at the exact moment the film starts, but what satisfies more than the changes in Gosling from the beginning to the end? Ryan Gosling delivers his transition realistically through events that unfold in front of him, with solid and believable performances scene after scene that prove he is a highly capable actor. Gosling's mask-like portrait of the nameless hero in "Drive" is amazing and exciting, but his performance in "The Ides of March" undoubtedly expose to us more of his if not flawless, masterful and flexible acting abilities. And we shouldn't leave out Hoffman and Giamatti, who are both incredible and perfect for their roles, Paul Zara and Tom Duffy, respectively. Clooney is great, but credits should definitely be given to him for the whole package, for his directing and writing rather than his performance alone. Evan Rachel Wood plays a supporting role as Molly Stearns, who is much related to the entire campaign itself and many characters. She is also the key that motivates Gosling's actions.

"The Ides of March" is certainly one of the most powerful and believable political thrillers or dramas out there, so don't miss this for certain.

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Implausible Premise
teacherccc22 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, put George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Giamatti in one film, and it will be worth watching, no matter how lame the story is.

The main problem with the story for me is that the scenario written for Molly isn't believable. The authors spend the first third of the movie convincing us how mature beyond her 20 years this girl is, street savvy enough to sleep with a sitting governor-presidential candidate and one of his campaign managers, yet afraid to ask Mommy or Daddy for $900? She comes from wealth; I'm sure she spent more than that amount on her prom dress or the smart suit for all her upscale interviews with the power brokers surrounding her well-connected dad. Shoot, I'd be surprised if she doesn't have a couple of credit cards with at least that amount on 'em. Would you send your daughter off without emergency funds? But, okay, let that pass for the moment.

The next problem I have with how they wrote her character is that when Stephen tells her she made a mistake and that means she forfeits the right to stay in the game, she folds. This smart, savvy, mature-beyond-her-years young woman folds. I think, especially in today's world, she'd realize immediately that SHE holds all the cards. She IS the game at this point. She can call any shot she wants. Yet, the writers have her yield and metaphorically slink away. I think a smart, savvy young woman in her position when strong-armed by Stephen-the-underling would have called his bluff.

That would have upped the ante. What would Stephen do then? How far would he have gone in his negotiations with Clooney? Would Stephen have joined forces with Molly? By dismissing the girl's potential with sexist nonchalance, the writers missed a golden opportunity to update and make much more complex the rest of the story. When she makes "a mistake" she's supposed to go home and quit playing the game; when Stephen makes "a mistake" it's written into the story that he finds a way to capitalize on it and come out on top. Seriously? Aren't we ready as a society to move beyond that tired context? So, enjoy the acting and actors in this film, but lament the storyline and demand better in the future.
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Nothing new
gkergh12 August 2013
Films and television shows about politicians all make the same mistake: they focus on what we all assume goes on behind the scenes in politics, and what we end up with is a predictable non-story. Netflix's pretentious House of Cards is another example. The characters are corrupt and scheming, leaving no one for an audience to sympathize with. No wonder nobody trusts Washington. This film seems to suggest we should accept and expect dishonest showboating instead of realistic, honest political discussion. This film did nothing more for me than remind me of why I generally don't vote. I was hoping for something exciting, as the title's reference to Julius Caesar suggested, but no; it's just boring, political scheming, which, at best, falls flat as a film. The production and performances were great, but the story gave me nothing to care about.
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Politically Charged Stage Play
jtprius51014 October 2011
Audiences leaving George Clooney's latest Ides Of March will feel like they've just finished a watching a really good play.

What makes sense of this is the fact Ides Of March was adapted from a play. In a play telling an audience everything they need to know always helps, especially when the majority of it are only going to see it once. However the difference in film is the aesthetic liberties it allows its' director and I don't think in this Clooney took enough advantage of that.

There is a part to this movie where a business exchange takes place inside of an escalade parked outside of a barbershop. The words being exchanged within that escalade are left to the audience's imagination because the camera never goes inside, but stands staring at it from across the street. Ides of March could've used a lot more scenes like this, but Clooney played it safe with a conventionally linear story line. And I think Clooney put so much more into the story line than he needed to for the audience's sake.

This film didn't leave enough to the imagination of its' audience. While the actors carried out every single demand of this script, the film itself doesn't leave its' audience with enough to make them want to watch it again. The amount of telling done over this show leaves little to no replay value. It feels like the majority of the aesthetic was put into the script when I think a minimum would've been more than enough. Ides of March's script told me a lot more than I needed to know. It feels like the script told me so much that I forgot some key elements to the story. Then again the liberties he took with the script is exactly what allowed Ryan Gosling to take his character to some extremes.

In terms of acting, with names like Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Giamatti, Clooney delivers an all-star studded Sega Dream-Cast. And in terms of his direction, Clooney really leaves Ides Of March to his roots in the stage. However with that said I'm afraid it all felt a little too staged for the silver screen.

For the sake of cinema I think Clooney could've taken a little more of an aesthetic liberty with this project.
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zzyzx000-124-27155829 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Unbelievable is a word that got it's usage all twisted in recent years. People use it now as a synonym for 'extraordinary' or 'incredible.' Not me.

This review has plenty of spoilers. It's not meant for those who haven't already seen the movie. It's meant for those who want to know what others think about it.

On the plus side, it's got a cast of heavyweight actors (especially Philip Seymour Hoffman, and why does he have to chain smoke? Don't the producers know that people learn these bad habits from the movies?) so it's watchable. But as a story it's ..... unbelievable. Let me explain with a comparison: Think about Avatar. That movie begins by presenting us with a futuristic existence in a world with interplanetary space travel. Then we are introduced to a concept where people can lie down in a chamber and control a real live body which was designed to act on the hosts mental commands. That's absurd, isn't it? Yet once I accepted the basic premise, from then on, everything made sense. Now compare that to Ides of March: Set in modern day USA with ordinary people (no super powers etc.), what it presents to us should be reasonable. I don't mean to say an action flick where the hero never get's shot after 20 gunfights with automatic weapons. Those kind of movies we're trained to accept as pure fantasy whenever and wherever they are set.

I mean this movie is about characters who are set in a modern day election campaign, and it seems the key theme is the changing of one person from a loyal idealist into a ruthless selfish criminal. So the 1st key event is when Ryan Gosling, a key staffer in George Clooney's Presidential campaign, is given a call by Paul Giamatti, who is the head campaign manager of the rival candidate. Giamatti wants Gosling to meet him for a chat. Gosling hesitates, then agrees.

Giamatti offers Gosling a job if he will change sides because he thinks Gosling is so talented. Gosling declines, then goes back to his headquarters and tells his boss, Philip Seymour Hoffman about the interview and restates his loyalty to Clooney.

How does this differ from an engineer at Apple getting a call from a headhunter and offering them an interview at Google, to work on the latest Android OS for twice the pay? It happens all the time. It's legal. It's ethical, to the point the Apple engineer may have a nondisclosure agreement he signed when hiring in about proprietary technology. In the case of the movie, that doesn't count because at the same time, Hoffman was trying to woo a senator for an endorsement and gave away all the Clooney 'strategy' to what turned out to be the competition.

So Hoffman makes a big deal about the meeting Gosling had with Giamatti as if that was a big breach of ethics to find out what the guy wanted. Phony premise. Then what happens gets more unbelievable. Hoffman fires Gosling for having the meeting after leaking that 'story' (who would care about that) to the press, and Gosling then confronts Giamatti and agrees to work for him.

Giamatti laughs in his face and explains how smart he had been arranging this coup: He explains that if Gosling had originally jumped ship, that was a big win for him and if Gosling didn't he knew all about Hoffman's character and that Gosling would get fired anyways, so that would deprive Clooney of his talents which was the objective. A win-win for Giamatti.

That's all too much for me to buy. After that we learn what a rat everybody involved really is, with death, extortion and backstabbing all rearing their heads which isn't so unbelievable, except for one thing: If the people involved were so ruthless, how come nobody disappears in the middle of the night or while walking down the street? That would be realistic.
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Terrible movie. American politics twist.
Westeire20 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I can't believe I watched it, The plot I didn't get and the ending was an anti climax. I suppose its a good mirror of how politicians are 2 faced. Really struggling to come up with 10 lines here to review this movie as it does not have many redeeming points about it and I don't want to give the plot away. I suppose I watched the movie thinking about where it was going and how it would end.. and it ended with? what?!! no idea. I suppose in the states people might be kinder about this movie, but I think it lacked all imagination or originality. Its as if it were a copy/paste story from Clinton era with a slight twist. I did not think George C. did himself any favours with this movie.
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A terrible movie
digger520 October 2011
I understand that movies are the willing suspension of disbelief, but Ides of March asks for WAY too much suspension. I have worked on dozens of campaigns and I have never seen less energy in a headquarters. I have never seen less passion in a candidate, a manager or a volunteer. What was George Cloony running for? Coroner? During a hard fought campaign, the staff fits in a meal when they can and sleeps for a few hours if possible. Except for that, they have no life.

All of the problems of the campaign were handled in the worst possible way. The idea that this was an actual presidential campaign was completely unbelievable.

It was like watching a baseball movie in which the greatest player of all time didn't know which end of the bat to hold.
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Noise signifying nothing
judywalker214 October 2011
I went into this movie with great expectations; too bad. Ides of March is noise signifying nothing. I expected more from George Clooney. Hollywood likes Ryan Gossling. He'd better hope that they don't start to like him too much because when they do they start to put you in garbage like this. Ides of March should have been a great political thriller, but instead we get a predictable movie that telegraphs all of its intentions and leaves you empty. I guess George has become cynical about politics and I guess I can't blame him based on the current situation. I guess I can understand why more people haven't flocked to this movie. My husband fell asleep on the first half and I was angry after the second half. The movie should have left you with something to think about like Michael Clayton but it didn't; too bad.
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Lose the liberalism 1st 30 minutes
SnoopyStyle23 September 2013
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is the assistant manager of Democratic Governor Mike Morris's (George Clooney) presidential campaign. Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is the campaign manager. Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) the opponent's campaign manager meets up with Stephen Meyers and offers him a job. Eventually the meeting is discovered. In the meanwhile, Meyers has been sleeping with an intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) who reveals a shocking secret.

This story seems old fashion. They talk about 3-4% as if it's rock solid. There's no real talk about internet or 3rd party involvement. It's all very 1999. Morris' speeches are filled with big unimportant things. They never seem to be real people talk. The whole first half is a sad iteration of liberal fantasy talk and inside political wrangling. When it turns, it's already 45 minutes in and too late. They needed to cut at least half of that time out. All the BS speeches need to go. I think it's suppose to show how idealistic Meyers was at the start which is really sad. To think that the second in command of a presidential candidate could be so naive even in Ohio. It's really sad.
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