Over the weekend I went and saw the Ides of March, primarily because Ryan Gosling was in it. The story intrigued me too of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent the outrageous amount of cash that movie theaters ask for. The move is highly cerebral and not very reliant on anything superfluous (like Gosling’s abs, or a big explosion, or Clooney’s abs, or a high speed car chase or Gosling’s abs), there isn’t even much of a soundtrack. So if you go to the movies for silliness, ass-kicking, sex (there is some but not a lot), abs, a great soundtrack or a chance to relax your mind from any thinking (which is NEVER a bad thing, I often go to the movies for that myself), I’d wait for Breaking Dawn (Part 1). This is not a recap so don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you exactly what happened or how the story ended. There are no spoiler alerts in this post.
In Ides of March, Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, an apparently brilliant assistant to the campaign manager (or co-campaign manager…I’m not sure), Paul played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who naively believes in the integrity of the candidate he supports. The movie script does everything it can to make a mockery of his naivete and idealism, eventually breaking him down. He takes a meeting for a job offer that comes back to haunt him. He begins sleeping with the intern, which comes back to bite him in the ass. And his solemn and unbending belief in the candidate gets shattered, until it becomes more about the job than the candidate himself. This movie is about creating lines in the sand, only to cross them two seconds later.
The actors are powerhouses, all of them holding your attention expertly, but they can’t fully make up for the problems. The major one for me is that there are only one and a half sympathetic characters. The rest, though played interestingly by their respected and talented actors, move the plot forward and agitate those we can sympathize with, but don’t make me feel much for them. It also feels at times as though George Clooney is trying to preach to moviegoers about what they should believe in and what kind of candidate they should be voting for. When I left the theater I kind of felt like George Clooney was running for president, though I wasn’t sure I’d vote for him…good looks only get you so far. It’s almost a disappointment that the movie had well chosen actors whom amounted to an incredible cast, but a story and a direction that couldn’t keep up. Or maybe it all went over my head, except for the part about Ryan Gosling being awesome, that I definitely didn’t miss.