The Ides of March

Timing, in film as well as comedy and birth control, is everything. Large crowds of people (or “mobs” as Eric Cantor likes to call them) have been compelled to gather and protest the fact that the country is starting to feel like the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, but not the heartwarming part when George Bailey runs through the snow shouting “Merry Christmas, you old Savings and Loan!”, but the part before that when he realizes that Bedford Falls has become Potterville. Are we witnessing the beginning of a new political movement, or is it simply that all those unemployed people don’t have anything better to do?

So what could be more relevant than a movie that brings us a political candidate who is thoughtful, intelligent, speaks out on the injustice of the distribution of wealth and looks like George Clooney to boot? Does art mirror life in this scenario, or is it the other way around?

Either way we’re screwed, because The Ides of March, the new political thriller starring and directed by George Clooney, goes from hopeful optimism to political cynicism faster than a lobbyist can make a deal on a park bench. The story traces the back door wheeling and dealings of a political campaign trying to win the Ohio Democratic primary and seal the presidential nomination. Clooney is the candidate with the winning smile and fabulous charisma who represents a whole new way of doing things in Washington, a kind of amalgam of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt. His media advisor is played by Ryan Gosling, a power-hungry but optimistic fast talker whose faith in his candidate dims when certain revelations are discovered.

The plot twists and turns while various players try to out maneuver each other, espousing that getting their man elected justifies the ends to the means. The cast is uniformly excellent, with Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman particularly wonderful as dueling campaign managers. Jeffrey Wright also plays a pivotal role as the governor of Ohio, who can switch teams faster than LeBron James.

The film may have Shephard Fairey type posters of Clooney with HOPE on the bottom, but there’s not a lot of that left by the time the movie is over. I wasn’t really surprised by this behind the scenes scenario of campaigning, but the cynicism makes you wonder if there’s any point in protesting anything when it all comes down to politics as usual. The film is fast-paced, tense and compelling, but it won’t leave you with any fantasies that the way we elect our leaders is going to change anytime soon.

Barf Bag Rating: ZERO BAGS
Jalapeno Rating: ZERO PEPPERS

Nothing to make you physically sick in this one, but my stomach got a little growly when I realized that, once again, there were only two women in this film and one had slept with most of the male characters. The other one was Marisa Tomei as a hard-bitten reporter who talked like Broderick Crawford. Really, Hollywood? Really?

By the way, that is one of the best movie posters I have ever seen.

2 thoughts on “The Ides of March

  1. Anonymous

    The plot sounds like the book I’m reading: THE POLITICIAN – An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down. It is written by Andrew Young, a man who became so devoted to the idea of an Edward’s presidency that he allowed the Edwards family to use him and his family to cover up his affairs and illegitimate child. That was probably the inspiration, though not the actual plot model.The book starts slow, as Young tries to explain how he got to that point, but picks up around Ch. 6 when he is first considered for VP candidate with John Kerry ’04.
    I agree. Very good poster. Good cast. I am interested in seeing this one.

  2. Pingback: Political Campaign Expert » Blog Archive » The Ides of March « flicksthatmakemesick

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