It is not often that the staple CMC interest in government coincides with my own admitted passion for the silver screen. But, fortunately for my Forum content and the entertainment of our favorite gov majors on campus and abroad in D.C., last month Colombia released a film that we can all enjoy, with or without political passion. The Ides of March, a political thriller directed by George Clooney, is an adaptation of a play by a former Hillary Clinton aide that shows the inner-workings of the campaign trail. As a fan of Clooney’s earlier politically-tinged directorial effort, Good Night and Good Luck, I thought I’d check this new one out and help the student body decide whether or not to squeeze a trip to the theater into the busy semester schedule.
The first thing to notice is the cast. This year’s “Dreamy McDreamboat,” Ryan Gosling, reemerges from the shadows of The Notebook with his third starring role this year as Stephen Meyers, second-in-command for the presidential campaign of Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). Stephen is an ambitious, young, and idealistic campaign worker, who puts all his faith in the ambitious, not young, and idealistic Governor. The more knowledgeable campaign workers include Stephen’s boss, Paul Zara, (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and the head of the opposition, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). Rounding out the D.C. personalities are a sneaky New York Times journalist (Marisa Tomei) and, of course, the intern (Evan Rachel Wood). All the parts are played expertly by a cast that has seen a ridiculous amount of Oscar nods between them. However, this is Gosling’s show, and his performance stands out above the rest.
From the beginning, the film speaks to Clooney’s idealistic world. Young women are easily charmed by handsome older men, a crooner sings in the background of a smoky bar, a popular presidential frontrunner doesn’t declare a religion, a black senator from North Carolina holds peaceful office, and a few unsupported jabs at the Republican Party are taken (unsupported, not undeserved). However, it was at this moment, just when Clooney had me half-convinced I was watching an unbelievable Hollywood portrayal of Washington, he pleasantly surprised me with some turns that suggested more complex characters and a more realistic story, as Stephen struggles to stay on top after meeting with the opposite side and eventually uncovers a few secrets himself.
In all, The Ides of March is a well-written, well-cast movie. The problem lies not in the story, but the material itself. What’s that, you say? Politics is a dangerous game that sometimes leads even the most idealistic players into corruption and deceit? The movie tells us this rather artfully, but it’s a disappointingly basic message at the end of the day. For you movie-goers mildly interested in politics, by all means go see it, just don’t expect to get your political pants blown off by anything innovative. Rating: B