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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Ides of March | George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood | Review

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The Ides of March

Politics is a dirty business.  There is no getting around that, regardless of good intentions.  One idealistic young man finds out the truth the hard way in The Ides of March, a timely political drama George Clooney co-wrote (with Grant Heslov and author Beau Willimon),  directed and stars in opposite Ryan Gosling and a stellar supporting cast.

Working triple duty is a demanding task and Clooney pulls it all off brilliantly and effectively, behind the camera as well as in front, bringing his star quality and charismatic charm to his well suited role as a presidential candidate. Who wouldn't want to vote for him?

Based on Willimon's stage play, “Farragut North”, the story is set during the Ohio primaries and follows Stephen Meyers (played with cool intensity by Ryan Gosling), the 30 year old, hot shot press secretary for fictional Arkansas Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), an ultra liberal Democrat on the campaign trail hoping to get the presidential nomination, if he can win the primaries and the endorsement of influential Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright).

Meyers believes in Morris and every word from the potential candidate's shiny speeches in which he promises to take back the country and steer it in a better direction. Meyer's ideology, loyalty and values are shattered when he becomes privy to a secret involving Morris' sexual impropriety with Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) a seductive 20 year old staff intern, whose father is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  With the knowledge of scandalous information, twists and turns  involving corruption, backstabbing, betrayal, ambition, unexpected power and the lure of political advancement and come into play that have the impact to change everything.

There is a lot at stake and additional sideline characters figure into the unfolding storyline that evokes shades of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. The fantastic ensemble cast also includes Philip Seymour Hoffman as Paul Zara, Morris's shrewd campaign manager and Paul Giamatti is his opponent Tom Duffy the sleezy, ruthless campaign manager for Morris' rival, each determined not to let anything get in the way of their candidate's nomination. Marisa Tomei adds some spark portraying Ida Horowicz, a tough New York Times political journalist, eager for a
scoop.

George Clooney has crafted aprovocative, intriguing story that takes the audience behind the scene and into the world of calculated, political maneuvering. Mirroring so much of what goes in today's real world, we get to witness politics as a brutal, ugly business that has the potential to chew up and spit out even the best man or woman that cannot withstand the scrutiny that comes with the territory.

Smart, truthful, and skillfully executed, Ides of March gets my vote as a must see film and could very well be in the running for several Oscar nominations.

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