Sunday, 27 November 2011

Movies Reviewed: The Ides of March

The Ides of March is George Clooney's fourth film as director, having already offered up: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck and Leatherheads.

At the centre of the plot is the determined and focused young political campaign staffer Stephen Myers, played by Ryan Gossling.  He’s working for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) who is trying to get the nod to be the Democratic presidential candidate.

The Ides of March is based on the play "Farragut North" written by Beau Willimon and adapted for the screen by George Clooney, Beau Willimon and Grant Heslov.  It takes it name from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and upon reflection of the film it seems quite apt.  Without giving too much away, Julius Caesar was told to beware the ides of March before he was assassinated, and Morris' story, too, is a cautionary tale.

To secure the Democratic presidential nomination Morris has to win the crucial Ohio primary.  He’s the popular candidate, but an obvious risk – due to his left wing tendencies: he's openly agnostic, in support of gay marriage, willing to pull troops from Iraq and other battles abroad, a liberal in the true sense of the word.  Morris comes across as being an idealist, not wanting to get muddied by the tactics and back door dealings of politics.

The film explores how strong a person’s convictions can be when so close to achieving their desires, what compromises will they make to achieve their ends?  However, there were times throughout the film where some of the lead characters make emotional, ethical and moral leaps that I found incongruous with their nature. 

George Clooney’s political views are well known.  They are also clearly evident in the film.  However, thankfully, this doesn’t detract from the broad appeal of the movie itself.  It is a well written, taut political drama with exceptional performances from most of the cast – in addition to Gossling, there are brilliant performances from Paul Giammatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman who play the competing campaign managers for the two candidates.


If you can, don't miss this one, particularly if you're a fan of the West Wing. One of the best offerings in 2011, and probably (hopefully) a real contender for award season 2012.

Want a second opinion? Check out:

Reviews through Rotten Tomatoes
Review by Margaret and David on At The Movies

If you've seen it, what did you think?

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