The Ides of March is a political drama about idealistic campaign staffer Stephen Meyers (played by Ryan Gosling) who loses his idealistic values the instant they are diametrically opposed to his own survival. The movie stars George Clooney as George Clooney, but in the movie he goes by the name Governor Mike Morris. It also stars Evan Rachel Wood, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Giamatta.
This movie left me saying, “Where’s the beef?” Because it definitely has more bun than burger. Overall, it was a beautifully produced non-story about a guy who was a skumbag all along and just didn’t know it until he had his shallow dogma challenged by reality.
As an author, I felt this movie took far too long to get any real tension going. Then, once it did, it never delivered resolution. The twenty minutes of actual story line were imbedded in an hour and a half of drawn-out, mundane details, such as climbing staircases and delivering coffee.
The most accurate comparison I can think of is Taco Bell “taco meat,” which is alleged to be around 36% meat and 65% fillers.
Or maybe it’s better compared to an overpriced, “prize inside” box of cereal. Lots of anticipation with no payoff, so when the movie ended, I felt like I’d eaten a lot of cereal, only to be cheated out of the action figure at the bottom of the box.
Perhaps it’s all of this talk about food, or pseudo-food, but right now, I would advise that you spend your money on a decent meal rather than see this movie at the theater. That’s why I’m going to break with the critics and rate this as a .22 rim fire*. It doesn’t justify the big screen, but it would be ok to rent.
Once it comes out on DVD, if you need one of those kinds of movies that’s just an excuse to sit next to someone on a couch to get to know them better, this would be a good one. The boring beginning will give you lots of opportunity to casually get closer to each other without missing anything.
The very popular George Clooney does a good job of playing George Clooney. His long years of practice in that role show in his performance.
This film was also directed and written by George. If you’re looking for hard hitting drama or sophisticated political intrigue in this film, you might be disappointed. It’s less about a political intrigue, and more about George’s sense of urgency in letting us know what his political views are. To avoid that disappointment, just have fun and view it the way you would view a neighbor’s long video of their toddlers playing with the garden hose.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Paul Zara
If George Clooney is somewhat limited in what personalities he portrays as an actor, he can at least take pride in his production skills. George was skillful in his casting choices. Philip Seymour Hoffman was Clooney’s first excellent choice. In one of the critical roles, Philip was very convincing in his portrayal of experienced, no-nonsense campaign warrior, Paul Zara.
Ryan Gosling plays a cute little energetic political baby goose, Stephen Meyers. He fills the role very effectively.
Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers
Evan Rachel Wood did a nice job playing the careless young seductress, Molly Stearns, who is away from home and taking ownership of her exciting new hormones. I enjoyed that she was not made up to enter each scene as a perfect Goddess of Eroticism. She’s attractive, but she’s not airbrushed. One of the things I enjoyed in this film is that this sexually available young intern isn’t demonized as a political home wrecker. Whatever blue dresses she might have in her closet, George doesn’t blame her for them.
Evan Rachel Wood as Molly Stearns
The lighting, camera work, and editing were nicely done. I was happy to see George step away from standard procedures and make a few risky decisions with the camera work and lighting.
The music was very dramatic and well timed, but the sound work could have used a little improvement. I suppose that monotone mumbling is important for keeping political conversations private in campaigns, but those of us who didn’t write the script can’t follow it quite as easily as the writer/director.
I thank Mister Clooney for shunning the use of the usually aggravating “queasy cam.” The dramatic music begged at least one car chase and two shoot outs, but George avoided those mistakes, as well.
While the production qualities were good, the story struck as not being quite developed. For me, it flowed like a college freshman’s weekly English paper. Professors don’t want to grade long, complex papers so the freshmen are stuck keeping it short and simple. In my opinion, this story failed to reach it’s potential. If a little more effort had gone into the writing, it could have been a great film.
George, the next time you and your pals are going to burn up a mountain of cash on producing a film, just contact us first, and we’ll be happy to hook you up with some great writers. With so much talent and production quality involved in a movie, you could easily produce a great film rather than a campaign speech.
The earliest reviews of this film were very high, but I am also going to break with the majority of critics by giving this film a .38 Special rating. You won’t kick yourself for going, but try to avoid paying full price. This would be a handy matinee because you would leave entertained, but not intellectually or emotionally drained. You would easily be able to return to work and do your job or finish those domestic chores.
George, if you think we’ve been unfair, you are free to submit a rebuttal.
Have you seen Ides of March? What did you think? What other movies would you like us to review?
Piper Bayard–The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse
Holmes–Student of Sex, C4, and Hollow Points
*Bayard & Holmes Movie Ratings (We prefer ammo. Thumbs are so yesterday.)
- Dud Chinese-manufactured ammo: Stay home and do housework. You’ll have more fun.
- .22 rim fire: Not worth the big screen, but ok to rent.
- .380: Go to the matinee if someone else is paying.
- .38 special: Worth paying for the matinee yourself.
- .357 magnum: Okay to upgrade to prime time if you can stand the crowd.
- .44 magnum: Must see this. Life-altering event.
Wow! Great review. I dont think this is the type of movie that I want to see, unless it’s background music. I’m usually not one for politic drama–much less slow political drama.
I was hoping for something resembling a story that was something more than “politics as usual” when I went in. But this would be good “background music.” Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for stopping by.
Hi Ellie. I’m glad that we saved you the trip.
Terrific post, Piper! I left the film with similar feelings–particularly the fact that Rachel Woods’ character wasn’t demonized. And although most of the acting was fabulous, a couple of plot points had me going, “Um…really?”
Your ‘see it as a matinee’ pointer is spot on!
Hi August. I think Rachel Woods did a bang up job with the young, vulnerable woman who is chewed up and spit out by lesser individuals. And your, “Um…really?”…. My words, exactly. Thanks for the compliment, and thanks for stopping by.
You made me laugh a couple of times. This movie is not one I’d be interesting in seeing, but it *is* something my husband might want to watch. Reading your review let me know I can safely spend the movie text messaging and chatting with friends and not miss too much. You know, I sort of felt the same way about The American with George Clooney.
Glad we could give you a smile, Catie. And yes. Text messaging and chatting are totally appropriate activities for this movie. Glad to know about The American. I didn’t see it, and now I know that if I ever do, I should take my phone, a few friends, and a pot of tea. Thanks for stopping by.
I’m bummed it wasn’t as good as it’s made out to be…I had high hopes for this movie! :/
I did, too. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Malia.
“The very popular George Clooney does a good job of playing George Clooney.”
Sadly, this is often enough for me to shell out the money for the ticket.
Lol. How funny, Coleen. He is quite a handsome man. If he could just stand there looking handsome without talking, that would be ok to me. Artistically speaking, of course. 😉 Thanks for stopping by.
Hi Coleen. I can understand. I was the same way with Racquel Welch when she and I were much younger. I hated it when stupid writers put lines in for Racquel. I liked her best when she was silent.
Ugh. I know how it feels to watch a movie that doesn’t deliver. Too bad the plot did not grab the viewer in this one. And the cast could have rocked the show..
Exactly, Mindi. This cast was awesome. As Holmes said, they could have made a great movie. To me, this is a great example of what you get when a writer (George Clooney in this case) is more concerned with saying something than with being heard. Thanks for stopping by.
Thanks for the review! I had a friend from a former employment say this was a good movie to see on the big screen, but I think she was/is just happy to watch George Clooney. I don’t like mediocre political plots, (real life presidential politics are about as much as I can stand, thank you very much! LOL)
I hear you with that one! When I am President, my motto will be, “Spare me the drama!” Thanks for stopping by, Vila. Good to see you.
Wait, so you’re telling me George Clooney is somehow politically biased and obvious with his clumsy views on screen? Yeah right, next you’ll be saying that Sean Penn is pals with Hugo Chavez. I like Oceans 11-13 and can watch Clooney do that stuff. His “serious” movies are rubbish though. IMHO.
I know what you mean, Clay. It’s enough to shake my faith in Hollywood as a font of political and military wisdom. *deep sigh* But on the bright side, as you point out, his Oceans films are fun. Thanks for stopping by. Always good to see you.
Two things in the review caught my attention- “non-story”- well don`t need to see that. Truthfully, I don`t care what George`s political agenda contains as I see him as an actor. That`s right George- just deliver your lines and look good while doing it.
Lol. I can’t argue with the practical approach. Thanks for stopping by, Emily. 🙂