Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Ides of March

The Ides of March – 101 min – R

I was looking forward to watching The Ides of March. The Trailer makes it look like this decade’s American President. I was looking for a movie that shows a political campaign and the contenders are faced with moral questions and have to choose between what is right and what is popular. It’s a world that has tough choices and the right people make those choices and this movie is going to highlight the difficult journey of those people. Boy was I wrong. This movie was one man’s journey from idealist to jaded politician. I want to be clear, I am giving this a Yellow light because of the films problems with story, and not because I was disappointed at the movie’s true direction.

The story surrounds Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling), a member of a Governor Mike Morris’s (George Clooney) presidential campaign. He and Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are the campaign managers. They work through a staff of young people who all believe in Morris’s message and his view of the future. Paul Giamatti plays Tom Duffy, campaign manager for Morris’s opponent. Duffy is a shrewd player in the political jungle, bringing a devious political expertise to the story. The race is being covered by reporter Ida (Marisa Tomei), who is outstanding in this role. She really did a great job as a political reporter that keeps her eye on the story. Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) is a young campaign intern and Stephen’s love interest. Jeffrey Wright plays a Senator who is selling his endorsement for a cabinet posting. They escort us on journey of sacrificing political ideals on the altar of politics. This is not the story of a politician who has to make the right hard choices. It’s more a story of Icarus who flies too close to the sun and falls to earth. As good as each of these performances were, I did not like most of the characters. The only character I mildly liked was Paul, because through this story he was the only one who was consistent. My problem was in this entire movie there are no good guys. There is no one whom you feel for.

This movie was heavy handed and at times overbearing in its political message. Politics is bad. I don’t think that people today really need to be told that. If anything, we could use a message that shows us a different way of doing things. A way that we can point to as an example and say “this is how we should act, this is the standard we need to hold our political figures to.”

George Clooney had a hand in most of the production in this movie. He co-wrote, directed, performed and produced. I would caution anyone who has enough power to do this that having complete control over a production can make it hard to get objective views during the creation of a movie. I am reminded of another George who does everything but perform and his movies have suffered from the lack of creative input from his staff. A movie is not one person’s vision but a collaboration of skills from several talented people to make someone idea come alive. One example of this is some of the dialogue coming from Ryan Gosling sounds like it is coming right out of George Clooney. You can see similar pacing coming from each of the characters. Grant Heslov also helped write this movie and he has some great movies under his belt and I have enjoyed his acting one of my favorites is in True Lies, We need to see him in more movies.

WARNING Spoilers: No Members of the Press Beyond this point.

I was completely angry at Stephen when he was giving his speech to Molly about how if you make a mistake you have to take your lumps and step away. He was right in the same spot not a minute later with Paul telling him he made a mistake. Hypocrite, I am still brisling over that scene.

Jennifer Ehle was completely underused in this film. She was really just a set dressing through the entire picture. She has one touching scene with the Governor in the car but really she was under used in this film. Her performance in Contagion was much better role for her.

Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the movie in one look. He steps out of a dinner, lights up a smoke and then gets called into a car. He sets his cigarette down on a ledge of a brick wall before he gets in and the wind blows it off the ledge. As he gets out of the car just receiving the news he is off the campaign, he looks down at the cigarette that has blown onto the street, it is such a small gesture but it completely symbolizes his disappointment.

What movie presidential candidate would you vote for?

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