‘Ides of March’ Movie Review

David Wiens / Washburn Review

What can I say about “The Ides of March,” or more accurately, what can I say about a movie involving politics that will not cost me half of my readers?

“The Ides of March,” although set amidst a (fictitious) Democratic presidential candidate’s Ohio campaign, is actually centered around Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling.) Meyers is a fresh-faced, clever, charming, idealistic, and skilled Junior Campaign Manager working under Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) for Mike Morris (George Clooney), a Pennsylvania governor vying for the Democratic nomination for president. The backdrop may be political, but the plot itself plays like a borderline melodrama replete with affairs, suicides, betrayals, and all the terrible things we hope never happen to us, but love to watch happen onscreen.

As far as performances go, “Ides” has a lot to like; since Clooney directed and co-wrote this film in addition to playing Morris.

The characters, although unoriginal and bordering on cliché at times, are highly dynamic. So much so that Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), senior campaign manager for Morris’ competition, is the only character who comes out more or less unchanged.

To be honest, this is one of those movies that I recommend without actually liking. Maybe I am just too jaded, but I got the sense that the entire movie was all just to get that final shot of Ryan Gosling. With every new plot point I was either scoffing or wondering if the movie had a point. I had trouble believing Meyers’ character was capable of changing so drastically given his motivations. Evan Rachel Wood is a very agreeable actress, but her character is four different kinds of cliché and almost every new plot twist that involved her bothered me.

So what does all my muddled rambling and contradiction mean to you? It means that this has been a lousy year for moviegoers and what would be a mildly well-received movie most years winds up in the top five at the box office this year.