Ides of March Review
By Bret Dorman
There was this one blissful part of my ‘working’ life where I worked at Blockbuster Video and I got free movies and had minimum responsibility. Part of working at Blockbuster was listening to the ‘trailer tape’ which highlighted new theatrical movies, DVDs, special promotions, and had clips from older movies.
If I was working at Blockbuster now (especially with the crew I worked with then), Ides of March would be that oft quoted trailer movie that provided hours of fun inbetween angry customers. (WIDEscreen?! I didn’t buy a 55 inch HD television so I could fill it up with black bars! WIDEscreen sucks! Blockbuster sucks! You suck! … so how much will it be?)
The Story: Stephen Myers (Gosling) is a super cool campaign dude for Presidential candidate Morris (Clooney). His friend is Paul (Hoffman) and his enemy is Tom (Giamatti). They fight a lot. He has a crush on intern Molly (Wood). She has secrets, just like everyone else. Also, everything everyone does is super duper important and probably wrong and probably will come back to bite them in the butt.
The first half of this movie sets up Gosling as this charming smooth talker who is super campaign savvy. It also sets up Hoffman as a super campaign expert. Lastly we not only find out Clooney is a super campaign candidate, but the movie dangerously skirts the line between political drama and propaganda.
It’s just before the halfway mark that two things really change the entire movie. The first thing is shown in the trailers. Myers meets up with his mentor’s rival, Tom. Apparently this is the worst thing in the world. Its never quite explained why exactly but let’s just say two dudes meeting for lunch to talk about nothing can and WILL be blown out of proportion by anyone and everyone. The second thing is more secretive, but Myers does take control of the situation… kind of.
By the end of the movie we really don’t have a sense of who any character is or what they stand for. Some people come out ahead and some people lose, but they play each other like pawns even though none of them are really good at chess. It’s like that game where two people put their hands on the bat and whoever gets to the top first wins. Luck seems to outweigh skill. Ultimately, no real lessons are learned.
And yet… I’m a sucker for a good monologue and meaty dialogue scenes. Generic lines such as “Do you know what you’ve done?!” performed by great actors always makes me giddy inside. Melodrama is this movies best friend.
I guess Ides of March is the kind of movie that makes you wish George Clooney had a better political script to direct… kind of like Goodnight and Good Luck. It’s the kind of movie that makes you wish such powerhouse actors like Hoffman and Giomatti had jucier roles… kind of like in Pirate Radio or Duplicity. It’s the kind of movie that makes you realize Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei can be great supporting actresses… kind of like in The Wrestler. It makes you wish that Gosling could be in a movie where he has suppressed rage issues and has to deal with really intense situations and be awesome and outsmart/outperform everyone while having plenty of time to breath and sit in potent silences… kind of like… Drive?
In Conclusion, this isn’t quite the Oscar bait I was expecting, but lines like “It doesn’t matter what you thought! It matters what you DID! It matters what you didn’t DO!” will always hold a special trailer place in my heart. And because when I’m in the shower I don’t sing songs, I quote these lines.
Final Grade: C+
PS You might be asking yourself what my favorite ‘trailer tape’ line might be? That honor goes to The Departed’s “You want them to chop me up and feed me to the poor?! Is that what you guys want?!” (in the Boston accent of course).