“The Ides of March” is a political drama starring Ryan Gossling (Fracture) as Stephen Myers, an ambitious but idealistic assistant campaign manager and how the politics of campaigning transforms his character.
Myers is very good at his job as the right-hand man to the candidate's (The Air Up There’s George Clooney) right-hand man(Capote’s Philip Seymour Hoffman). Meyer’s is so good in fact that Tom Duffy (John Adam’s Paul Giamatti) the campaign manager of the rival candidate attempts to recruit him to work for their campaign.
The meeting between the two is what quickly transforms “The Ides of March” from merely a behind-the -scene narrative of a presidential campaign to a fairly interesting melodrama depicting how paranoia, greed, lust and ambition corrupts even the most righteous of people.
Each of the lead actors deliver strong performances which likely saves the film from being completely boring and predictable. Ironically though, it is not Clooney nor Gossling’s screen time that drives the film, but rather it’s the supporting cast. Hoffman and Giamatti’s scenes are the ones that hold the audience‘s attention from act to act long enough that the story eventually moves on it’s own legs.
Jeffery Wright (Shaft), in a small role as a United States senator whose endorsement means life or death to either campaign, delivers yet another performance where he commits to the character so completely that you hardly recognize the actor.
The Ides, which Clooney also directed, serves us a not so subtle taste of his political leanings, especially when his character gives a stump speech that sounds vaguely like the message that Obama was spreading throughout his 2008 campaign.
Overall, this is a good glimpse into the mechanics of running a campaign in today’s political arena with a close up examination of the underbelly of the politicians involved. Unfortunately, the suspense that “The Ides of March” tries to make entertaining kind of pales in comparison to the real-life controversies that plague Washington.