An idealistic staffer for a new presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.
Release Year: 2011
Rating: 7.3/10 (48,278 voted)
Critic's Score: 67/100
Stars: Paul Giamatti, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Stephen Meyers is an idealist who's brilliant at communications: he's second in command of Governor Mike Morris's presidential campaign, and he's a true believer. In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris's opponent asks Meyers to meet: he offers him a job. At the same time, Morris's negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag. A young campaign intern, Molly Stearns, gets Stephen's romantic attention. Republicans have a trick up their sleeves, Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has a secret. What's most important: career, victory, or virtue?
Writers: George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Governor Mike Morris
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Evan Rachel Wood
(as Yuriy Sardarov)
Release Date: 7 October 2011
Filming Locations: Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $10,470,143
(9 October 2011)
(8 January 2012)
Did You Know?
Although never mentioned in the film, Senator Pullman's first name is Ted.
Ohio is a two license plate state. All the vehicles in Ohio are missing the front license plate.
I'm not a Christian. I'm not an Atheist. I'm not Jewish. I'm not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in is called the Constitution of United States of America.
Solid, realistic political melodrama – not a thriller
The Ides of March isn't a story just about the back-alley dealings of
those seeking to gain power; it's a morality tale of how much one must
wrestle between doing things because he feels they are the right thing
to do and doing things that will serve themselves better in the long
run. It is a political melodrama, but it just as easily have been
written about business and high finance. It's highly cynical, with its
points driven home by a terrific cast, and yet it manages not to be
heavy handed or preachy. Indeed, there aren't really any strictly good
or bad guys in this movie.
Ryan Gosling stars as Steven Myers, a top aide to Governor Mike Morris
(George Clooney), who is running for president; currently at stake is
the battleground state of Ohio. If Morris can gain Ohio's delegates,
he's pretty much assured to get the Democratic nomination, and in the
film it's noted that the Republicans have a weak field themselves (at
best). All of this means, of course, that as Ohio goes, so goes the
presidency, so there's plenty riding on this one primary.
Morris' campaign manager is Paul Zara, played by Philip Seymour
Hoffman, a veteran of many cutthroat campaigns. And although Zara has
the experience, Morris often turns to his young(ish) aide Steven to
gain a less-jaded, more-truthful perspective. (Of course, by doing so,
Morris is simply trying to hear from someone who may not be thinking
four years or fewer down the road at his next job.) Like most staffers,
Steven believes in Morris; he thinks that if the man is elected
president, good things will happen. He is the prototypical idealistic
aide; doing the right thing will win out over all, he believes. He's
not completely naive to backdoor politics, but his organization, his
analysis, his acumen, and his spirit are what endear Morris to him.
Even though Steven is not a Mr. Perfect, a self-righteous do-gooder,
he's savvy; he knows which buttons to push. He learns, though, that his
chief obstacle to success is in recognizing whom is trustworthy, and
just because one is friends with another doesn't mean that either owes
the other much when it comes to the game of politics. For example,
simply feeding the press (in the person of Marisa Tomei) the occasional
tidbit doesn't mean that the media will be an extended PR arm for
Somewhere along the line, Steven reaches a breaking point, a place at
which loyalty isn't the most important thing on his plate. This point
comes as a result of two pretty bad decisions, one that he knows is a
bad idea right away and another that seems a little more innocent but
then Steven has underestimated how petty, parochial, and vindictive
those in the business can be. It's all about one's level of paranoia.
You have to have some in order to foresee problems, but too much of it
will hollow out your soul in a jiffy.
Clooney, who also directed, looks and sounds presidential, but he's not
the focus of the movie; as with his brilliant Good Night, and Good
Luck, he's a powerful supporting character. Things don't revolve around
Mike Morris as they do around Steven Myers, and that's one reason the
movie works our focus is on the morality battle, and it's presumed
that as a sitting governor, that battle's long been over for Morris.
The hand-picked cast is superb. Not only do we get Clooney, Hoffman,
Tomei, and Gosling, we also get Paul Giamatti as the governor's
opponent's campaign manager. Each one seems to steal scenes, even ones
they share. Even Evan Rachel Wood, as a new intern in Morris' camp,
turns in a splendid performance.
It's clear that The Ides of March won't be for everyone. It is, as I
said, cynical highly so. It won't leave you hopeful about, well,
anything. It gives you no one for whom to really cheer and yet no one
for whom to really despise. It offers realism in lieu of hope, and its
goal of trying to explain the motivations of those who get involved in
these campaigns is reached. It's an effective, gripping melodrama.