George Clooney is a Democratic Governor running for the presidential post in the US primaries. His campaign manager, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and press secretary, Ryan Gosling, pull out all the stops for the crucial Ohio primary. Things change when Gosling discovers his boss’ indiscretion and the murky side of the political game. Find out more in the review of The Ides Of March.
Business rating: 2 / 5 stars
Star Cast: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei.
What’s Good: The engaging, entertaining and intelligent script; the fine performances and direction.
What’s Bad: The slow pace of the narrative in some parts; the esoteric nature of the film’s subject that will be understood by only a section of the Indian audience.
Verdict: The Ides Of March is a very good fare but it’ll do good business only in certain metropolitan cities in India.
Loo break: None.
Watch or Not?: Definitely watch it if you are the one for intelligent and engaging political dramas.
Smokehouse and Appian Way’s The Ides Of March is a political drama set against the backdrop of the US primaries in the presidential election.
Democratic Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) is fighting to be the Democratic nominee in the US presidential elections that are to follow. He, his experienced campaign manager, Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and his press secretary, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), are trying to clinch the crucial Ohio state primary, where they need the support of Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) and his group of Democratic delegates. Stephen is dedicated to Morris’ campaign with all his heart and soul.
On his part, Thompson is ready to throw his weight behind Morris’ competitor, Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell), whose campaign is managed by the shrewd Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). One day, Tom Duffy gives Stephen a job offer that the latter refuses. However, Stephen does not instantly share this information with Paul Zara.
So when a journalist, Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei), finds out about Stephen and Tom Duffy’s meeting, she blackmails Stephen to give her more information on a secret meeting that Paul Zara had with Senator Thompson. Stephen refuses to divulge details in order to protect Moriss’ candidature, but is fired by Paul, who accuses him of disloyalty. Stephen goes to Tom Duffy for a job but realises that he has been used. Defeated and alone, Stephen decides to use to his advantage a secret about Morris that only he knows. What is the secret? What happens when Stephen uses it? What about his own personal ambitions? The rest of the film answers these questions.
The Ides Of March Review: Script Analysis
George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon’s screenplay, based on Willimon’s play, Farragut North, is very well-written, engaging and entertaining at the same time. In spite of a slightly complicated backdrop (the US primaries), the drama is impactful and direct. Scenes flow into each other unpredictably as the audience discovers, along with the young press secretary, the dark underbelly of US politics. Although the pace of the narrative slackens a little in the first few reels, things look up as soon as Stephen is made an offer by the opposition camp. In the course of the 80-odd minutes thereafter, the audience gets involved in piecing together the puzzle that Stephen is supposed to solve if he has to save his skin. Political machinations aside, the screenplay also has a clear sense of morality, which is depicted in Stephen’s struggle for his ideals. The dialogues are natural and extremely entertaining at the same time. All in all, the script is wholesome and engaging.
The Ides Of March Review: Star Performances
Ryan Gosling shines as the 30-year-old press secretary. His is indeed a performance to watch out for. George Clooney is restrained and effective in a slightly small role. Philip Seymour Hoffman is good as ever. Paul Giamatti makes the character of the opposing campaign manager come to life. Evan Rachel Wood (as the intern, Molly Stearns) plays a small yet crucial role beautifully. Jeffrey Wright is impressive as Senator Thompson. Marisa Tomei (as Ida Horowicz) does very well. Michael Mantell (as Senator Pullman), Max Minghella (as Ben Harpen), Jennifer Ehle (as Cindy Morris), Gregory Itzin (as Jack Stearns) and others support well.
The Ides Of March Review: Direction & Technical Aspects
George Clooney’s direction is the highlight of the film. He treats the subject with just the right amount of drama, never making it too boring (through long dialogues) and never pandering to the lowest denominator (by adding unnecessary melodrama). He also manages to extract wonderful performances from his stellar start cast. Alexandre Desplat’s background score is the life of the film, giving meaning to lots of scenes which may otherwise have seemed tedious. Phedon Papamichael’s cinematography is masterful. Editing, by Stephen Mirrione, is effective.
The Ides Of March Review: The Last Word
On the whole, The Ides Of March is a very good fare that deserves to be seen. However, because of the slightly esoteric subject and the lack of top Hollywood stars (who are easily recognised by the paying public in India), the film will find appreciation only among the elite multiplex-frequenting audiences in the Indian metropolitan cities.