Ides of March
trying to describe ‘The Ides of March’ to my friends and family, and I
always seem to fall short. The inevitable question, ‘what’s it about?’
Is usually answered with, ‘Well, it’s a movie about politics,” and
that’s about the time their eyes begin to glaze over. But now I’ve
worked out where I’m going wrong. If instead, I start with the sentence
‘It’s a thriller directed and acted by George Clooney,’ I tend to get a
is full of politics, for sure. But the thing that pushes it into the
more appealing ‘thriller’ category, in my books, is the sense of
danger that has been infused into the storyline. For the most part
it’s not physical danger, but something perhaps even more frightening:
Psychological danger. What’s at stake is a person’s heart, mind and
plays Mike Morris, a state Governor who has put himself in the race to
become President of the USA. On his campaign staff is Stephen Meyers
(Ryan Gosling) a talented young man who firmly believes that you don’t
have to compromise your beliefs in order to succeed. But then Stephen
makes two independent decisions, both of which will have dire
consequences in the future. First, he begins a relationship with
attractive intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood). And second, he
agrees to a clandestine meeting with the rival candidate’s campaign
manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), without telling his boss. As the
repercussions for both choices hit him at once, Stephen is forced to
make some tough decisions that could ruin everything: His life, his
career, and the campaign.
This is a
movie that’s big on symbolism and imagery. When Clooney’s character
speaks to the public, bright lights give his face its own radiant halo.
In the next shot you’ll see Meyers and his boss Paul (Philip Seymour
Hoffman) behind the stage, black silhouettes against the American flag.
These scenes might lack any kind of subtlety, but they do a good job at
imprinting the idea in your mind of faceless figures, who operate behind
the scenes to achieve their own shadowy ends.
great scene puts Meyers behind the wheel of his car, just after he
receives a crushing psychological blow. His face is stony and impassive,
but the shadows of raindrops on the windscreen run down his face, in an
obvious parody of grief.
that Clooney has a lot of tricks up his sleeve as a director, but the
movie is really made by the performances of the actors. Gosling is solid
as the lead, but it’s some of the peripheral characters who steal the
show. Paul Giamatti is brilliant as Tom Duffy, playing the character
with a convincing mix of anxiety and weary cynicism. George Clooney
doesn’t give himself a lot of screen time, but he puts in a typically
powerful performance when the camera is on him.
the great moments in this film, the ending feels like a let-down. While
it resolves the main conflict of the story; the battle for Stephen’s
ideological soul, it doesn’t deliver a proper sense of closure.
?On the campaign: The cast of Ides of
March- An in-depth look at each of the main characters and the
actors who play them.
Believe: George Clooney- This one is
all about the superstar Actor/Director/Screenwriter himself, and how
he handles the three (sometimes conflicting) roles. This one is a
bit of a gush-fest, and doesn’t offer up anything interesting.
?Developing the Campaign: The origins
of the story- Clooney and playwright Beau Willimon talk about how
the movie grew from Willimon’s play, and the changes that were made
for the big screen.
?What does a political consultant do?-
In by far the most interesting special feature, real-life consultant
Stuart Stevens talks about all the dirty tricks and gambits which
are used in election campaigns.
instrumental soundtrack only comes out during the more important scenes,
and doesn’t add much to the overall mood. One of the tracks features
whistles and percussion with a dark undertone, almost like a corruption
of ’Yankee Doodle.’ Most of the conversations are very soft, meaning
you’ll have your sound system turned up for the duration.
of lighting is used throughout the feature. There are many dark interior
shots, where characters’ faces are submerged in shadow, making this a
visually dramatic film.
of March is a tense and affecting story, given life by some great
individual performances. Even if the ending feels a little cheap, it’s
still a thought-provoking and scary experience.