GRADE: 5 out of 5
There are good political dramas, there are great political dramas, and then there's THE IDES OF MARCH. After the mediocre Leatherheads, director George Clooney has finally come back to his top form, reminding us that he's the exceptionally talented filmmaker who brought us Good Night And Good Luck. With a terrific ensemble cast and themes that walk on the thin line between integrity and ambition, THE IDES OF MARCH is an engaging film that doesn't let go from start to finish. Gosling is excellent, Hoffman is masterful, Giamatti is flawless, Tomei is fierce, and Clooney is charismatic..
During the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, an up-and-coming campaign press secretary finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate’s shot at the presidency.
Come to remember, it's pretty impressive that Ryan Gosling has 3 great hits just this year alone, with Crazy Stupid Love, Drive, and now THE IDES OF MARCH. Watching THE IDES OF MARCH is like watching The West Wing season 6 when the episodes took you on the campaign trail and the complications that happened along the way. THE IDES OF MARCH follows Steve (Gosling) who is aware that politics is a dirty game but has no idea how dirty it could actually get. Politics is his whole life and he badly wants to believe that something good could come out of it. He's your typical idealistic patriotic young man, he's a picture of what you'd like America to be but would never be like because truth of the matter is the world just doesn't play by those same rules.
Gosling is very good at expressing reactions, his timing is impeccable and he gets in the ring with such acting heavyweights as Wright, Hoffman, and Giamatti, without breaking a sweat. THE IDES OF MARCH is an unfinished story of the change of a man and Gosling understands that, you can see his transformation slowly but surely as he faces the pressures and unexpected problems, how he'd plot his revenge. To a certain extent, the movie does seem predictable, especially for those of us who already have a pre-conceived judgment about politics and politicians in general but the outstanding performances of each cast member help the film rise above that, it's like Glengarry Glenn Ross set in a presidential race.
THE IDES OF MARCH has a very smart plot that aims to entertain. If somebody thinks of it as some kind of propaganda for the left wing or right wing, then that somebody is taking this way too seriously. It's an effective tale of betrayal and the morally corrupt. When you believe in someone so strongly and all of a sudden something comes up that shatters that belief, how do you get back from that?! What's interesting is that second half of the film focuses on Steve (Gosling) being thrown out of the circle and Steve fighting his way back in and he's got a secret weapon, the kind that any political arena that's seen a downfall could easily relate to. How do you continue to play the game when the game has played you?! THE IDES OF MARCH will show you how.