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“The Ides of March” (2011) Review

Ides of March

“The Ides of March” is a smart movie, with a clever plot line. It is a film complete with a great cast, full of actors known to give great performances. It is also a movie that did receive some award nominations (mostly for adapted screenplay). What “The Ides of March” isn’t, however, is a film that has a clear vision of what it wants to be and contains authentic situations and characters.

In “The Ides of March”, the viewer is put in the middle of a close race for the Democratic party’s presidential candidacy. The film focuses on one of the two candidates and his campaign crew. The race twists and turns as media, consultants, and other politicians get involved and all look to blackmail and bribe their way ahead. For the first two-thirds of the movie, this story of one man’s race and another’s belief in him is compelling. However, at that point in the film, the story takes a sharp turn and begins to derail. From then on out, everything felt too implausible, and the characters flat. What this plot lacks most of all is emotion.

The majority of the film I spent just letting twist after twist unfold, without any of them really having any weight to them. I don’t know if this is due to the writing (which is mostly solid, but at times a little too contrived) or the acting (more on that next), but I just didn’t feel anything for most of the film.

Speaking of the acting, George Clooney has assembled a great cast – Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling (who always seems to play the same character in all of his films, except “Drive“), and Clooney, himself. As these talented actors entered the film, I was expecting some high-quality scenes. Yet, as above, most of the sequences just felt flat. There are two scenes during which I felt any kind of true emotion from the actors, while many more should have been more impactful. This combo of iffy writing at times and flat acting keeps the movie from really reaching any kind of major tension.

Why does Ryan Gosling always seem to play the same (or a close variation of the same) character in every movie (outside of "Drive")? As such, this face is always somewhere in each film.

Why does Ryan Gosling always seem to play the same (or a close variation of the same) character in every movie (outside of “Drive”)? As such, this face is always somewhere in each film.

All of the acting and writing aside, another piece of the film that fails to enhance the drama is the soundtrack. I only remember two particular scenes where the soundtrack was really noticeable, and even in those instances, it is underwhelming. I wish the music could have at least accentuated the key scenes when the writing and acting didn’t.

With the overall lack of feeling in the film, and my comments above, you would assume this is a poor film. I have to say, though, that it isn’t all that bad. The smart, political chess match that takes place during the first two-thirds of the film is still interesting despite the story not quite seeming to know what it wants to be or where it wants to go. All in all, “The Ides of March” is an entertaining film, as long as you don’t try to dig too deep into it all.

Final Score: 5.5/10

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