Film Review: The Ides of March

July 15, 2013 3:42 pm

The Ides of March shouldn’t work. It’s all been seen before: a dirty election, a two-faced politician, an idealistic assistant losing the faith, even Clooney in the director’s seat. And yet this seasoned formula as familiar as the assassination on a March afternoon more than two thousand years ago still manages to joggle one’s imagination.

Ryan Gosling opens this behind-the-scenes political thriller that gets more and more exciting with every Hollywood big-shot it introduces. Gosling plays the starry-eyed Stephen Meyers who runs the presidential primary campaign for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) alongside Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Paul Giamatti’s Tom Duffy needs to contain Meyer’s unfailing charm in order for his candidate to win. With a little push of a scoop-digging journalist Ida (Marissa Tomei), the dice is cast and the game gets dirty. Still, it’s the voluptuous exchange between Meyers and intern Molly (the brilliant Evan Rachel Wood) when the film really starts to build the excitement and the seemingly predictable relationship is the first step to Meyer’s downfall.

The tense atmosphere builds slowly and soundly with such weighed precision that you don’t notice the shaky reasons it develops on. By the time Ides lays its flabby cards on the table you’re already hooked on the compelling characters and immersed in a familiar structure that will keep your eyes glued to the screen. It won’t be until the credits have long since rolled that you’ll ask yourself if the transgressions that held careers by the thread were as big as they were presented.

The film’s biggest transgression is its anti-climactic ending, since the build up was leading towards a train wreck of levelling proportion and delivered a quiet transition of power instead. But even that can be explained by the fact that those involved in politics are particularly adept in stopping sh*t from hitting the fan.

The Ides of March are not yet ready to take their place as a heavyweight in the political thriller genre, but they might mature over time to illustrate the political scene of our time. Not to mention the transference of Clooney’s Hollywood icon status upon Gosling’s and Wood’s rising stars.

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