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Film Review: The Ides of March

Oct 21, 2011 08:47AM ● By Wendy Sipple

George Clooney both stars in and directs this political drama about rival presidential campaigns during a democratic primary. A young political consultant, Stephen Meyers (played by Ryan Gosling) becomes idealistic about the candidate he works for. He quickly becomes disillusioned as he works behind the scenes to not only hide the candidates indiscretions but also to watch his own back for political backstabbing. It isn’t long before Stephen himself becomes a player in the political game.

The cast of the movie is loaded with talent. Some of the best actors in the business to be honest. While their performances are fine it does nothing to save the movie from a dreadful story and script. The movie makes several key errors in making the story accessible to me, as an audience member. The movie is loaded with horrible people. Every character in the film is a back stabber and morally bankrupt. Now that wouldn’t kill a movie if the cast of characters were interesting. This worked fantastically in such films as Pulp Fiction, The Godfather series and Scarface. However, the cast of scum bags that populate Ides of March are painfully boring. Even the big scandal elicited more of a yawn than anything. Perhaps that is a comment on society now, as it would be far more shocking if a politician was squeaky clean than a cheater. But with the rash of political scandals that dominate the news nothing that Idea of March offered was terribly interesting, shocking or noteworthy. That left me watching a bunch of boring, horrible people doing bad and boring stuff to other boring people. In the end the movie is well…boring.

The fact that they had one of the best silent actors in Ryan Gosling and completely botched the way to use his talents is another hit against the film. This is not a slight against Gosling’s performance in the least, but he is undeniably the best actor at just looking at a camera and not saying a word. He has a very unique talent to say a lot without muttering a word, which was put to the test in his earlier film this year, Drive. Not since James Dean has there been another actor that can be interesting just standing there doing seemingly nothing. In ides of March the whole movie is chalked full of banter and talking heads. The best moments of the movie are the few moments when they allow Gosling just to be silent.

I am not a huge fan of actors that direct themselves in films. George Clooney was not horrible in his role as an actor or as a director, but I think both would have been stronger if he chose one over the other. I don’t know why he felt he had to do both, but very few can pull it off well. The last that comes to mind is Mel Gibson both directing and acting in Braveheart. The supporting cast in Ides of March features some of the best in the business, and Philip Seymour Hoffman shines the brightest as the senior campaign consultant.

In the end the story was intended to be about a young upstart’s downward spiral into corruption, but because the character comes across as unlikable from the start the character arc does not shine through. While the movie ends, the message it tries to leave you with is muddled, and the film’s lack of impact is made shockingly clear. It is not informative, enlightening and -- most alarming -- entertaining. Ides of March is another film the critics will flock to because of the talent who is employed, but a general audience will walk away scratching their heads wondering why the critics liked it so much. Ides of March is a far cry from a crowd pleaser. In fact, unfortunately it's just a very boring movie.   

Films like Ides of March – The Contender, Primary Colors and The American


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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