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WGUC Reviews

Ides of March

Ides of March
Cross Creek Pictures
Rated R
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas

By now, everyone already knows that The Ides Of March was partially filmed in Cincinnati. So keep in mind that you’re a member of the audience, not a tour guide. If you want to point out all the sites that are on-screen, save it for the DVD release where you can freeze-frame and rewind. The first time you see this, hopefully on the big screen, should be to experience the film.

Local favorite son George Clooney wore a lot of hats in the creation of The Ides Of March: co-writer, co-producer, director, and actor. He plays a governor running for the Democratic nomination for President, and the battleground state is Ohio. It’s a must-win for what bodes to be a really nasty election. Clooney’s governor has ideals and principles, and abhors the thought of swapping political favors for votes and support.

Ryan Gosling, who is almost certain to grab an Oscar nomination for his performance, plays Clooney’s top aide, an idealistic young man who thinks he can make the world a better place. Although Gosling impresses in just about every film in which he appears, this is, as they say, his star-making performance.

The rest of the cast is also sensational. Philip Seymour Hoffman is Clooney’s campaign manager; Paul Giamatti is the campaign manager for the opposition candidate; Marisa Tomei is a tough reporter for the New York Times; and Evan Rachel Wood is a young intern on the campaign trail, who is also a political groupie.

The direction and acting are excellent. Alexandre Desplat contributes another masterful score, and is well suited to the task following his work on the politically oriented films The Ghost Writer and The King’s Speech. Cinematographer Phedon Papamichel makes Clooney’s Cincinnati darn near as gorgeous as what Gordon Willis did for Woody Allen’s Manhattan.

But the bottom line here is the subject: politics. We all know politics is a dirty business and one that corrupts almost anyone who ventures inside its powerful grasp in search of a grasp of power. Suffice to say The Ides Of March is likely the most caustic and cynical piece of film making since 1976’s Network. By the time you ride Clooney’s rollercoaster of planning and posturing, intentions and betrayals, idealism and brutal reality, the film will leave you stunned as if being hit between the eyes with a two by four. It’s one thing to try to wade through an evening’s worth of sound bites on the national news, but to bear witness to all the gamesmanship, both personal and political, and machinations in the name of power, it’s more than a bit disheartening to realize that politics isn’t as bad as we thought… it’s much, much worse.

Despite the acid-tinged edge to this tale of what many may say is perfect timing given the upcoming, dreaded 2012 election onslaught, The Ides Of March is a terrific exercise in filmmaking and storytelling, that, after a long hot summer of cinematic fluff, action, and garbage, is just what the thinking adult audience has been craving.

The R-rated The Ides Of March is now pulling the lever at a cinematic polling place near you.


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