George Clooney steps back from in front of the camera and works his magic behind the camera in his latest political thriller The Ides of March. This time around Ryan Gosling takes the lead, with talented men like Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti to help amplify his actions. The Ides of March may not be the best political film due to its often times distant approach to several characters, but it works as a good film with a strong overall cast.
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is a young ambitious staffer for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). Meyers is the kind of guy that is married to the job. He truly believes that Morris will make a big enough impact on our country if elected President and he uses this strong belief to help justify his cutthroat approach to politics. That’s until an attractive young intern named Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) steps into the picture. What begins as innocent late night encounters soon turns into the campaign breaker for Stephen.
His beliefs are rattled as he uncovers a goose egg of a secret that leads him down a dark spiral road that he always went against. Dirty politics is the topic of the day in The Ides of March and George Clooney has no problem directing a political film that still entertains the everyday people that don’t really care for the topic.
Clooney’s many years as a successful and talented actor made his transition to directing easier; at least he makes it look that way in his fourth outing behind the lens. He knows how to get good performances out of everyone in the film, regardless of how important their character is or how briefly they’re actually on screen. Everyone makes in impact, from Gosling, Hoffman and Giamatti to Wright, Wood, Tomei and Clooney. The Ides of March sticks with the viewer because of the characters and Clooney’s direction is partially to blame, the other part of the blame obviously goes on the actors.
Gosling’s performance in Ides is much more good spirited than his recent turn in Drive or even some of his roles in romantic comedies. He’s not the super confident stud who throws himself at the ladies; he’s instead a focused individual that believes in change. It’s not about the money or fame for his character Stephen, it’s about making a difference in the world and Gosling’s beginning half performance gets that point across very loud and clear. His second half performance is fueled by revenge and anger and it’s a very nice transition that doesn’t feel forced in the slightest. His eyes go cold and his hands tense up as he begins his rampage.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti have the two biggest roles aside from Gosling and they make it look easy. The way these two men consistently churn out top quality supporting roles like this is scary. Hoffman is the 20 year man that’s all about loyalty while Giamatti is as usual a cold son of a bitch that doesn’t care about anything other than winning. Both men were born to play roles like this.
The Ides of March is a tightly made political thriller until the last act. Everything sort of builds up after the main twist in the film, but then it all fizzles down to an ending that isn’t bad or out of place, just a little disappointing. I think the main reason why the ending didn’t leave an impact on me was because George Clooney‘s character; the man running for President, feels completely out of the focus. He makes several short appearances throughout the first part of the film, but then he drifts off and doesn’t show his face until the very ending.
Clooney has no problem playing the role, but the role doesn’t feel that important and it should be. I think this falls on Clooney wearing multiple hats as the director and one of the leading actors, who really isn’t that much of a lead in Ides. It’s not a huge problem, but it does weigh the film down from being Oscar worthy to just being a well-made film.
Who would have thought the sometimes boring world of politics would shine this bright on Blu-Ray? The Ides of March has one of the most consistent 1080p transfers I have yet to see on the format. Blacks are always dark and detail is preserved with a small amount of grain placed over. The film doesn’t really pop in terms of bright and shiny colors, but everything is perfectly represented here. This is the kind of stuff I like to show off opposed to the more obvious reference quality discs like Transformers.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is also a shocker. The Ides of March is a dialogue heavy film, full of chit chat and silence opposed to explosions and gunfire, yet it still sounds incredibly smooth. Everything is mostly scattered on the front channels, but the back ones do open up for ambiance. For what the film has to work with it sure sounds good. It’s clear and focused.
The Ides of March comes with a nice set of bonus material, but most of it is too short to really become invested in. The audio commentary is the star of the show. Check out the full list below.
- Audio Commentary with George Clooney and Grant Heslov
- Developing the Campaign: The Origin of The Ides of March (HD)
- Believe: George Clooney (HD)
- On the Campaign: The Cast of The Ides of March (HD)
- What Does a Political Consultant Do? (HD)
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
- Sony Previews (HD)
At the end of the day The Ides of March fits in nice and snug next to several other political thrillers. It’s not as well-crafted as others, but it’s still a good film that boasts strong performances by several actors like Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. The film only fumbles with George Clooney‘s role, which is a misstep that probably could have been avoided either during the script writing process or during the casting process. Clooney is a talented director and performer, but he just couldn’t fully do both in The Ides of March and it shows.
The Blu-Ray looks amazing from a technical standpoint and while it might not instantly pop out at you, it will win you in the long run for being consistent and strong. The audio is in the same boat, not sounding all that impressive, but it really is considering what type of film this is. The special features are good, but the audio commentary is the only feature that really feels complete. The disc is closed with an UltraViolet digital copy of the film for those looking to take this film everywhere they go.
The Ides of March may not be the best political film due to its distant approach to several characters, but it works as a good film with a strong overall cast.