Review: The Ides of March

There’s an all star cast leading this decent political drama about the corruption and shady dealings that seem to characterise the campaign process in the USA. Ryan Gosling plays Stephen, our idealistic protagonist, working day and night to get Governor Mike Morris – George Clooney – coming out of his campaign as the President of the United States. Also on the scene are Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Clooney’s right hand man, Evan Rachel Wood making her mark as an intern who becomes romantically involved with Gosling, Marisa Tomei as Ida – the nosy journalist, and Paul Giamatti as Tom Duffy – campaigning with the opposition.

You might not think I’ve really gone into any details of the plot there, but actually, that’s about all you need to know in terms of the premise. Indeed, the pertinent film buffs might guess how the film pans out simply by looking at that character list.

On the positive side, The Ides of March is an incredibly sleek, concise and reasonably compelling movie. It is – as you would expect – beautifully acted (Oscar nominations will come flying at Gosling and Clooney next year, without a doubt). That, in a sense, saves the film from mediocrity, for it is hardly a startlingly original piece of cinema. It is an actor’s movie – the script could be taken and, bar a few tweaks, could be adapted straight off as a play for the theatre.

However, The Ides of March is also quite predictable throughout – watching it, as intrigued as I was, I could not help thinking that I had seen ‘all of this before’. I questioned whether, after so many previous works revolving around the same themes, whether trying to explore political corruption with such a routine plotline really deserved a whole film devoted to it. Despite the fact that it is incredibly well made and directed (George Clooney not only proves his acting skills here, but also that he makes for an incredibly competent director), it is also riddled with clichés, and here and there, the script suffers from a little clunky dialogue. By and large, though, this is an enjoyable movie.

Review by LiveWire Young Film Critic, James Martin (October ’11)