I don’t recall a time when I had been so indifferent about the film I just watched than after watching Ides of March. Perhaps it is because I am already a very cynical person, and thus am quite aware that everybody working in a political campaign has to be just a cynical. After all the experience of running any political campaign, outside county office, has to be so excruciating that any ideal, which existed before hand, is likely to get crushed. So when the public does get to vote they don’t end up voting for the stronger of two ideals but for the evil that survived with less corruption. Ides of March wants this to be the moral of the story. But my guess is that if you are the type of person interested in such story you are already aware of the ending, and if you are not the type of person interested in such a story – well – I would suggest you read some news before you watch this movie or you run the risk of being quite bored by it.
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a young, up-and-coming press secretary, is a man who has to lie for a living, and has his head so far up his ass that he can’t see an obvious political trap headed his way. He, along with Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), is running the presidential campaign for Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney), and idealistic liberal who’s numerous speeches make President Obama look like a staunch tea-bagger. Clooney’s competition on the Democratic-primary is Sen. Pullman (Michael Mantel), and his seasoned campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). As expected, everyone in the race, except for Clooney, is a cynical and cocky bastard. Oh, and there is also a female journalist (Marisa Tomei), who is seems to be there only to balance out what would otherwise be an all-male cast.
So what is the political trap? Duffy, a role that could be played by no one but Giamatti, invites young Meyers to join his side, which we assume is the dark side because Giamatti is in it. Young Meyers doesn’t accept the offer, but is nevertheless flattered by it. Is he really that good? A nineteen-year-old intern, Molly (Evan Rachael Wood), seems to believe so. With all this flattery it doesn’t take long for Paul Zara to realize Meyers’ attitude might be detrimental to the campaign. So he gives a long monologue on trust and cockiness.
The film has many of these monologues, which draw out its points. They are, on one hand, its strong suit; monologues like this tend to attack an A-list cast like the one above. But like the Gosiling character, they are so over-their-head that they undermine the films main point. There is no way for the pressure-cooked atmosphere of a political campaign allows for any monologue.
In the end you are simply not getting the political thriller, nor the well-crafted moral thesis, a film like this could deliver. In the end the film is like many political campaigns; it is wishy-washy on its promises and disappointing when it comes to delivering them. Even when the hearts of those at the spearheading it where in the right place, and idealistic as the Clooney character.
Oh and somebody sleeps with an intern. Which I find to be a bit of a cliché; even when it is the films most realistic depiction of a political campaign.