“The Ides of March” features an all-star cast of Hollywood A-listers doing their best to act their way through a teeny-tiny plot.
It’s like watching NBA All-Stars playing a championship game on an elementary school basketball court. That gymnasium, like this plot, cannot possibly contain all this star power.
Directed by George Clooney, this film is based on Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North” which in turn is loosely based on the 2004 Democratic primary campaign of Howard Dean. The pressure is on to get their candidate to the White House and Ryan Gosling and Philip Seymour Hoffman do everything they can to get Clooney to Pennsylvania Avenue.
Gosling shines — as he has been doing a lot lately — and this movie once again brings his talents to the forefront.
Clooney is perfectly cast as an honorable presidential hopeful sticking to his moral guns. Marisa Tomei plays nosey reporter Ida Horowicz, attempting to manipulate her relationships with Gosling, Hoffman and Paul Giamatti to break stories. Evan Rachel Wood rounds out the cast navigating her own complicated world of politics.
While this film was neither released on March 15 nor are any politicians stabbed on their way to the theater, the plot is fraught with betrayal. Gosling’s character starts out as an enthusiastic campaign manager who is hopelessly devoted to Clooney’s political machine. After one phone call, one secret meeting and the discovery of a cliché romp with a young intern, all Hades breaks loose.
The betrayals and metaphorical stabbing continue when Gosling’s devotion to Clooney is tested. Though Clooney may not be the man everyone wishes him to be, the film takes viewers on a journey of discovering what issues really matter when picking a president. Unfortunately, the audience doesn’t get to see an honorable man ascending to the oval office, but rather a system where betrayal and dishonesty are rewarded. The shift in allegiances occurs so suddenly that the audience is jarred into a harsh reality of the dark world of politics.
A very tense scene with Clooney and Hoffman deciding upon their campaign strategy could have been one of the strongest moments in the film. Unfortunately, rather than having these two titans act out the scene, they simply get into an unmarked SUV and the audience cannot hear what transpires. The film misses a key opportunity to showcase dialogue that represents a well-intentioned candidate’s shift to the dark side.
The main issue of this film boils down to everything being about a girl, a very tired concept. Helen of Troy launched 1,000 ships and started a 10-year war, so naturally Wood’s character, a thinly veiled nod to Monica Lewinsky, causes her own domino effect that changes the course of the entire film. And for that, thumbs down.
With the Savannah mayoral race around the corner and Obama’s replacement on everyone’s minds, Americans are now more than ever concerned with our political leaders. Savvy political drama aficionados need more than a bunch of A-listers squeezing themselves into a half-court script with a pretty face blowing the whistle on the action. Save your money and wait for the DVD which will hopefully be out by March 15.
Contact Jason Simpson.