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THE IDES OF MARCH

 

Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, a press secretary for the presidential campaign of the affable and progressive Governor Mike Morris. Along with advisor Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the two are leading the charge to put Morris in seat of Democratic candidate. But first, they must win the Ohio primary against Senator Pullman.

 

Things become complicated when Senator Pullman's advisor, Tom Duffy (Giamatti) calls Myers for a secret chat. In this supposedly top secret meeting between the two opposing sides, Duffy offers a job to Myers on the Pullman campaign as advisor.

 

Myers refuses, but once the word gets out about such a meeting, and the lines of loyalty are pushed to the brink, everyone must do anything they can to clean up the mess in order to protect the image of their campaigns.

Nearly instantly, this is one of the best casts of the year. Gosling, Clooney, Giamatti, and Hoffman are grade-A actors in their own right. Packing them all together in the same film, sharing such high-wire conversations is a dream come true.

 

And with that being said, no one's really playing out of his or her expectations. Clooney's as charming as usual with his no-B.S politician that we all wish our real life presidential candidates would be. Just as he likes to idealize the average man, so does he here with a man of power.

 

Gosling is the handsome ruffian, albeit with the same New York-like twang that's makes him sound like a boy some sort of fighting past. But the blood on his hands here comes from an urgency to survive in the political world (as opposed to pure survival in his still-better performance in "Drive.")

 

"The Ides of March" is a testament to the power of its high voltage cast, who don't have to beg for our attention and emotional investment to get it. The most unique performance might be coming from Giamatti, who has finally found a villainous role that doesn't goof-up his flaring eyes but seemingly disarming presence.

Standing out from other political movies that can be bogged down in political jargon or an overwhelming amount of characters, "The Ides of March" keeps its twisting drama straightforward. It also keeps its politics of loyalty open to all scenarios. Meaning, this isnít just a backstabbing tale solely for politics; the film shows that any of these shenanigans are fair game once the potential for any sort of power comes into play. Politics are just one hell of a forum for backstabbing.

 

Every change in the story's direction is made in a clean turn, without the movie losing any of its velocity Ė every back stab is clean, and delivered with more stealth than Brutus ever had before he helped inspire such a term to the anguish of Caesar.

 

The drama of "The Ides of March" is so delicious, yet it feels much shorter than it should justly be. While we get a full picture of the immediate issues in the movie, the cut-off conclusion feels like it leaves too much of its aftermath to the ambiguous. Plus, this movie has such an energy you really don't want it to end. When it closes up shop just 100 minutes in, Clooney makes his cutting point feeling more like a cop out.

 

The real creme de la creme of "The Ides of March" is the film's many dramatic conversations, some of which are the best of year. In fact, the interaction between Gosling and Clooney at the end is so intense it very well could end up being the year's best. Itís the moment when the film's beautiful taste for mindgames reaches its peak, and the wit of the movie is the sharpest.

 

This is an actor's movie, with performances controlled by a director/actor who never needs to shout his dialogue in a movie to express significant emotions. During this collaborative effort, there's never a moment when any of these top dogs really chew up the screen. Hoffman and Giamatti especially have the tendency especially to really test the intensities of their characters.

 

The dialogue is able to speak for itself; Clooney and company are just the incredibly articulate messengers who deliver such words and meanings so breathlessly.

 

"The Ides of March" is a positively electric political thriller with a cast that canít be beat. With its delicious deception and top-notch cast, this movie will certainly be a top candidate come Oscar season.   -- NICK ALLEN, is also a film critic for The Scorecard Review and member of Chicago Film Critics Association

 

NICK ALLEN

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