"Enemies forced by circumstances to work together; members of an unlikely alliance. True it is that politics makes strange bedfellows." - Charles Dudley Warner.
Director: George Clooney
Stars: Paul Giamatti, George Clooney and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon
Running Time: 101 minutes
The new political drama The Ides of March proves (at least fictionally) that things have not changed much since Warner penned those words in 1850. It also reminds us of a few other truths. Great acting can only go so far and George Clooney wears a suit like no other.
Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is a hotshot campaign staffer whose white starched shirt has yet to be stained by corruption and dirty politics. He truly believes that Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) can turn the world around as president of the United States. But when the polls get tight and the race gets closer Stephen learns that loyalty, integrity, and honesty are not always defined the same in the political arena.
I enjoyed this film for the same reason that many will not. There is a lot of dialogue with very little action. I was ok with letting the supporting cast be the saving grace. This is a tediously slow film that easily could be stamped "boring." Even though the campaign trail heats up, the thematic waters never come to a boil. The plot sort of simmers at best. Clooney also co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film. I am not sure his adaptation of the stage play carried over well enough to the big screen to create an explosive, political force. It is more about Stephen's journey and discovery of the game and less about the juicy storyline that moves him along.
Again, I am fine with that and leaned solely on the expert acting of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. They both play rival campaign managers with award worthy prowess. No one was bad in this film it was just that many were left to make good with a lackluster script. Gosling and Clooney needed something to light a fire under their story arc. The tension and conflict that builds between the two never erupted; and that fact alone will leave many feeling cheated. Everyone loves to see politicians go at it. News Television has made a fortune from stirring up both sides of the debate. This could have been a fantastic film that grabbed elements from real life and the campaign trail, mixed that with high caliber acting, and let the pressure cooker blow. Instead it let the characters simply move about.
The Ides of March is rated R for pervasive language. There seemed to be a competition to see who could use the F word the most. Hoffman wins but others gave him a run for his money. Language aside there is little else in this film to find objectionable. My best advice is to not let the trailers trick you into thinking you are getting a taut, fast paced, drama. If you are expecting anything other than verbal jousting and a brief spike of excitement you will be disappointed. As much as I appreciated the acting of a few I am only giving this 2 out of 5 poll rankings. Had I paid to see it or if I only saw a handful of films a year I would be very frustrated at wasting my time on this one.
Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.