No need to beware the Ides of this political thriller
“The Ides of March,” the new thriller that emphasizes (as if we didn’t know) how politics is a dirty game, succeeds where many similarly-themed movies have failed. Audiences don’t like to mix movies and politics, but while “Ides” still does its share of moralizing—after all, George Clooney stars, directs and co-wrote the script, so how could it not—this refreshingly non-partisan film features a powerhouse cast and some nice surprise twists. It doesn’t aim to be a crowd pleaser in the strictest sense, and the plot holes and melodrama are obvious and overcooked at times. But the cast sells it and you couldn’t ask for more topical relevancy.
Clooney is Governor Mike Morris, the sharpest of liberal-leaning Democratic candidates fighting for a key primary victory that he hopes will lead him to the White House. Aiding him is loyal strategist and wunderkind Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), and a gritty, veteran campaign manager (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Working for the opposition is an equally tough campaign manager (Paul Giamatti), and looking for the inside scoop is a persistent NY Times columnist (Marisa Tomei).
Did we mention this is a powerhouse cast? Women are secondary characters here, but Evan Rachel Wood plays a key role as a young, beautiful, sexually forward intern—you can guess what the script has in store for her character.
Revealing too much of the plot would dampen the tension, but it is safe to say that betrayal, deception, sex, power and corruption all have their place. If this makes “Ides” less than revealing, we can only wish that today’s real world candidates were this articulate and engaging in their despicability. (Though here they are also incredibly foul-mouthed.)
On the Clooney film scorecard, “Ides” outranks his previous work in this area, including the convoluted “Syriana,” the pretentious “Good Night and Good Luck,” and the predictable “Michael Clayton.”
What “Ides” lacks in sheer insight it makes up for in bravura. And while that doesn’t make for it an important film by any measure, it doesn’t make it any less entertaining either.
Rated R for pervasive language.