Pros: Very strong cast. Decent idea for the movie.
Cons: Pacing issues. Story not handled as well as it could have been.
I became interested in seeing The Ides of March after I first saw a trailer. I did end up liking the movie overall, but I do think it has some issues.
Shortly before the Ohio primary, the campaign for Mike Morris is focused on winning, believing that will guarantee him getting the nomination. The race is close between Morris and Ted Pullman. Steven Meyers is working closely with campaign manager Paul Zara. Steven is younger and a bit idealistic, truly believing in everything Morris wants to do. When he is contacted by Tom Duffy, the campaign manager for Pullman, Steven ends up meeting him. That ends up showing him just how dirty some people get when it comes to politics. Things are further complicated by Steven starting a sexual relationship with Molly Stearns, an intern working on the campaign and the daughter of the man in charge of the DNC.
The Ides of March is based on the 2008 play Farragut North by Beau Willimon. I haven't seen the play, so I have no idea how much has been changed for the movie. Willimon, along with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, wrote the screenplay for the movie. Clooney also directed the movie.
While there is a Presidential campaign going on in The Ides of March that really isn't the main focus of the movie. I think the movie is more about Steven and how he becomes jaded because of what happens. He seems genuinely shocked by the dirty things that other people do in an effort to make sure their candidate wins. As the movie progresses, Steven has to decide what he is willing to do to achieve what he wants. From the way things are set up, Steven and Morris are both too good to be true, which seems to be setting up some kind of fall almost from the start. The trailers even sort of share that there is some kind of problem that comes up. The way the fall is handled is a bit predictable, though there are one or two small surprises. The movie isn't exactly what I expected, but I do think it is entertaining overall and worth watching.
I think that The Ides of March has a decent ides for the story, but it just isn't handled as well as it could have been. Once things start to change for Steven, a few things are brought up, and then basically forgotten about. I'm being vague because I don't want to spoil anything for people still interested in seeing the movie. With how things develop, something happens that will require an investigation. One of the characters even says there will be an investigation. Despite that, another character seems to forget that something more than likely will come out during that investigation. A few things seem to be settled by the end of the movie, but there isn't a strong resolution to everything. A few things are left very much up in the air. These things do add some holes to the plot.
The pacing for The Ides of March is a bit uneven. Several scenes are slower, and that may bore some people. The movie has been advertised as a thriller, but it really isn't. It is more of a straight drama with a few minor surprises. I do think the movie is interesting overall, but the pacing could have been a little better. There are some scenes that really don't add much to what is going on. The relationship between Steven and Molly doesn't do much for the movie either. She is the aggressor at first, asking him to meet her and then letting him know that she wants to have sex with him. While it isn't exactly unbelievable that two people working together like they were would end up having sex, something about the relationship seems a little off. There is a sex scene that doesn't show much. There are some sexual discussions, along with discussions of something that some people don't approve of. There isn't a lot of swearing, but the word that rhymes with luck is used several times by different characters. The movie is rated R and not for younger viewers.
It is hard to like the characters in The Ides of March. They all have some kind of issue, some worse than others. Even though Steven is the main character, he is hard to like. He does a lot of questionable things. The way that he reacts to a few things and decides to handle those things, shows that he isn't as good as he thought he was. Ryan Gosling does a good job with the part. Molly is a young intern working on the campaign. She is a mostly one dimensional character even though she turns up in several scenes. There just isn't enough shared about her. Evan Rachel Wood is fine in the part.
Paul has been working on campaigns for many years. He does seem to sort of have some sort of code, but he also does some questionable things. Phillip Seymour Hoffman does a really good job in the part. Tom Duffy has also been working on campaigns for years. He isn't in a lot of the movie, so Paul Giamatti doesn't get a lot to do, which is a shame. Michael Mantell is only briefly seen as Pullman, the man that Morris is running against in the primary. Ida is a reporter who seems to get along with Paul and Steve, but she is always after a story of some kind. Marissa Tomei is fine in the part, though she really doesn't get to do much.
Mike Morris is the governor of Pennsylvania and from what is said, he's done a lot of good things for the state. He wants to run his campaign a certain way. As things happen, he discovers that is harder than he thought. While Morris is important to the story, he isn't the main focus and is instead a supporting character. George Clooney does a really good job with the part. Jennifer Ehle is in a few short scenes as Mike's wife Cindy. Some other people working on the campaign are around without them standing out that much. A few real reporters are briefly seen or heard.
George Clooney - Mike Morris
Jennifer Ehle - Cindy Morris
Paul Giamatti - Tom Duffy
Ryan Gosling - Steven Meyer
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Paul Zara
Marisa Tomei - Ida
Evan Rachel Wood - Molly
George Clooney - Director
The Ides of March ultimately doesn't handle the story as well as it could have and the movie has some pacing issues. The cast is wonderful, though a few of them don't get the chance to do as much. I did enjoy the movie overall and think it is worth seeing, especially for fans of the cast.
I would have rated this one 3.5 stars if I had the option. Since I don't, I decided to round up to 4 stars.
George Clooney Movie Reviews
The American ~ Batman & Robin ~ Burn After Reading ~ Intolerable Cruelty ~ Leatherheads ~ The Men Who Stare at Goats ~ Michael Clayton ~ Ocean's Eleven ~ Ocean's Twelve ~ Ocean's Thirteen ~