If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Ahh, politics... like a mythical Hydra, you cannot outrun it, and the more you attack it, the more fearsome and overpowering it becomes. For the majority of people, it is a confusing and shadowy area of the daily news, but this film illustrates the murky and bleak background that could well be going on as we speak. As it even says itself, the only friend you have in politics, is loyalty.
I went into this film off the praise of the Spill review, and not too much else. A few synopsis stories, but all in all, I went in blind but with good expectations. After all, this is directed and starring George Clooney, with executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio, so there are some big names behind the project. So, does it deliver on its promises?
Well, the story follows the Presidential campaigns of two candidates, as they fight to gain the momentum from the key state of Ohio. A victory for either side could guarantee them the seat in the White House, so their actions and campaigns are under huge media attention. We follow Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) who is the Junior Campaign manager to Mike Norris, played by George Clooney. We see them through the beginning exhibiting extensive optimism and confidence in their tactics and victory, and the Senior Manager played by Philip Hoffman is the main force that is pushing the momentum forward.
The opening third of the movie lays out their daily debates and discussions against the opposing candidate Ted Pullman, and though it being on a slow pace, is where all the characterisation and links are defined. It lays out to the audience how that process works on a simple level, but also works hard to flesh out just who each person is and their role in the campaigns. Meyers is shown to be very charismatic, competent, and certainly the energy in the team. But his opinions and decisions are highly regarded by Norris, whereas Hoffman is the drive of the team on a whole, he makes the big decisions happen and keeps the wheels in motion. Clooney is, as you’d expect, Clooney.
However, things begin to take a suspicious turn when Meyers is asked to meet the rival's campaign manager, and join their side. We begin to see the shady dealings that though we know happen all the time in politics, rarely reach the public eye. He does not allow himself to be turned and keeps his loyalty to Norris, but, at the midpoint to the movie, events take an immense shift for the worse, the scale of which could derail the entire Presidential campaign, and undermine his own position as well. He struggles to take control of the situation, but ever so slowly, allows himself to slip into the murky and dark side of the business...
There's a lot to say here on The Ides of March, so I will start with the subject matter. And say that this is a film you'll need to pay attention to throughout, there's a lot of inter-weaving stories going on all the time, and always changing in their construct, so if you go see it, be in the right frame of mind for it. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, it is a slow brewer at the beginning, and takes its time to introduce the characters. I personally found it very enjoyable, feeling like a very well sorted TV show. The dialogue and interactions are slick and composed, and the camerawork is kept simple and reliable.
It's when things shift for the worst that the tempo really goes up, and it is so sudden that it leaves you as if... your stomach had just dropped a few inches. The shit hits the fan in a very serious manner, and you struggle to think how anyone will get out of it unscathed. The scenes are a lot sharper from here on in, every one changing the stakes or churning up the risks, it really did get me involved and on the edge of my seat.
And was definitely helped along by the cast, which was fantastic all the way through. George Clooney clocks in yet another stellar performance, his personal moments outside of the speeches are few, but damm they are amazing to see. He still knows how to weigh every word perfectly in the given situation, though then again, being director he was able to plan his scenes to the absolute detail. Ryan gosling was very impressive, reminding me of a very subdued Bradley Cooper, but just as effective in his screen presence. Watching his descent through the second half, watching all he was strived to do well get burned down and crumpled, it was heavy-hitting stuff. A mention to Philip Hoffman as well, who I really enjoyed seeing, I won't give away his character's influence on the story, but he's the character you just love to see in a good drama.
If I was to gripe about the film, it might be that the pacing lacks the organic transition; it shifts very quickly, especially as things narrow to a point near the end. I will need to agree with Cyrus as well, the script could have been just that bit better. It's carried across brilliantly by the cast, but I just wish the writers had combed through it one more time. Finally, and this is on a personal note, but I found it difficult to keep up with at times. Blame my eyesight possibly, but you need to be on your wits to keep up with the events, and for some, I can see that the ending would leave them a bit stumped; they might need to see it again to see the significance.
And about that ending? Well, once again, I don't place spoilers in my reviews, but I'll still tell you my thoughts. This film shows just how greedy and dark the game of politics can get. For some, it is all about loyalty, and if that is broken, all connections are severed with the offender. But some will do anything in the name of revenge, or to clear their names, even if it means tearing down everything they stood for and believed in. Politics is almost like gambling, it can bring out the very worst in good people, and if you aren't savvy with how it all works, you will burn.
Wow, this really did give my brain a workout, and it does not have any kind of happy ending at all. If you are looking for resolution and joy, go see another film. But, if you want to see an exceedingly-well crafted drama, with a top-notch cast, than this is right up your street. Once it gets in gear, it piles on the tension and suspense, that will leave you guessing until the very end.
I shall give this a Full Price (9/10), it was a great drama, and just how they should be done too. That hammerblow at the very end too is something that movies rarely do to me, make me hurt for the character on the screen. The story really drew me in, and never let go, it's definitely worth a see. As far as Oscar-worthy, I hope it does get the nod.
Thanks for reading! ^__^