"I'm not a Christian. I'm not an Atheist. I'm not Jewish. I'm not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in is called the Constitution of United States of America."
I originally did not want to review this film so early on, because I like films to "sink" in me first, but since February is the Awards season, and we're daily bombarded with what's mainstream, and since I had one of those mornings where I want to watch something of essence, I sat myself down and watched 'The Ides of March'.
The title being literally taken from William Shakespeare's play 'Julius Caesar' - "[...]beware the Ides of March[...]", a soothsayer warns Julius Caesar. Just like that this political thriller sucks you in, into the American political stratosphere of a game where justice is being played upon day by day.
I'm sure that just like this film there are a million political thrillers out there. Ever since 'All the President's Men' hit back in 1976 as a political thriller genre, whose intention was to expose a political figure and the scandalous corrupted political schemes they hide from the public, many directors and script-writers have indulge into this genre.
What constitutes a film apart from all the others is the growth of the plot and the characters. In this film we have a leading cats of titans; George Clooney, Paul Giammatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood and the rising star of the last couple of years Ryan Gosling.
I mean how can a director fail with such a recipe?
The dialogue is the key in such films, so that your audience can follow you up. Especially people who will watch this outside of the US and have limited understanding to how their elective system works and so on, you will have to pay close attention to the dialogue so that you don't get lost in translation.
The film talks about "Stephen Meyers; an idealist who's brilliant at communications: he's second in command of Governor Mike Morris's presidential campaign, and he's a true believer. In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris's opponent asks Meyers to meet: he offers him a job. At the same time, Morris's negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag. A young campaign intern, Molly Stearns, gets Stephen's romantic attention. Republicans have a trick up their sleeves, Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has a secret. What's most important: career, victory, or virtue?" (www.imdb.com)
The brilliant acting carries you throw into this world of corruption and false idealism. Unlike other political thrillers here we sympathize the young idealist who still has so many hopes for his country. Who wouldn't?
But the shift in the film comes from all the external factors that seem to affect the protagonist. Because as in life, balances are fragile and especially when it comes to politics one false move can send someone packing. This is what unfolds brilliantly in this film.
The circumstances, the false advertisement of hope and progress, the corruption of the demagogs and the unravelling of the truth by the media. The themes in such films are numerous and after watching films like that you're always left wondering to what extend is the public being fooled at?
Are we all just pawns into the candidate's campaigns or do we really have the right to our free-will? How far will they go to sell their 'holy' image so that we believe them?
Gosling is simply a new-rising gem to my eyes and I am hoping he will get to have his skills crafted even more in the future.
Apart from the snide dialogue and the numerous hints on the corruption of the American Constitution, I really enjoyed the smooth pace of the direction. It carries on the plot in steady pace so that it keeps the audience intrigued on the protagonist's fate. So thumbs up for Clooney's direction. He most definitely knows how to work the art and will be expecting to see more of him in the future.
Worthy mention to the score of the film by the brilliant and artful Alexandre Desplat, who seems to be composing the music for quite a few films in the last few years.
I would suggest to see this with a quiet company, since you need to pay attention to the plot as it unfolds and in my opinion this is a worthy political thriller of the political genre evolution.
Hope you enjoy Clooney's direction!
The Ides of March (2011)