Movie Review: The Ides of March (2011)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Drama
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Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) is the governor of Pennsylvania, and he’s running for President, he’s a shoo-in but he’s got to win the Democratic nomination first.  He’s got the brightest political help in town, his press secretary, Stephen Myers. (Ryan Gosling)  Stephen gets involved with a pretty young staffer, Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) to ease the tension of the political campaign.   Steve is so talented that his main rival’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) wants him on his team.  Duffy and Stephen have a clandestine meeting, and Stephen rejects Duffy’s offer.  Stephen feels so guilty about meeting with Duffy that he tells Morris’ campaign manager Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) Zara leaks the meeting to New York Times reporter Ida Horowicz (Marissa Tomei) and has Stephen fired.  Stephen learns of some damaging information about Governor Morris during the campaign.  Does he take it to Duffy?  Does he confront Morris with what he finds?

This is a pretty standard political movie, think Primary Colors. There is nothing even slightly politically thrilling about this movie.  Morris is a left of center candidate, who if he ran would lose badly.  I mention this only because Clooney’s character derisively calls his opponent a “liberal.” Also, this movie spends too much time with the political consultants, and not enough time with the candidates.  It doesn’t even identify Clooney’s opponent.  And the scandal is nothing revolutionary, in fact it’s downright ordinary.  So who’s to blame for this self congratulatory crapfest?  Since George Clooney wrote the screenplay, produced, directed and acted in this movie, it’s pretty easy to point the finger. Clooney is smart in one respect, he gives the lead role to Gosling, who does a pretty good job as the idealistic press secretary. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is also quite good as is Paul Giamatti, but the movie is not all that dramatic, political consults get fired all the time no one bats an eye.  So why should anyone care here?  The fact is, no one should care.   Clooney will get credit, by those who know nothing about politics, for making a movie about the inner workings of politics.  He shouldn’t get credit, because it’s a bad movie about the inner workings of politics.  Watch The Candidate, with Robert Redford, it’s a much better movie.

The Ides of March.  Beware.

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