Movie Review: The Ides of March

By Stephen Rebello

George Clooney stars and directs in one of the truly smart, grownup movies in theaters right now.

October 14, 2011 Director: George Clooney MPAA Rating: ® Studio: Cross Creek Pictures

Politics is a dirty game. Politicians will say anything to get elected. Idealists get crushed. Cynicism is poisonous and rampant. Seriously? Alert the media. You couldn’t accuse The Ides of March of being packed with cutting edge insights. But that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best-acted, best-made, most absorbing movies of the year.

George Clooney, who directs and co-adapts (with Grant Heslov) Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North, stars as a presidential hopeful, an apparently freewheeling, straight-talking maverick battling to win the Ohio Democratic nomination. Ryan Gosling plays his sharp but idealistic aide whose enthusiasm gets tempered by hardnosed, less impressionable campaign workers Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. Around the edges are Marisa Tomei, excellent and compelling as a New York Times reporter on the political trail and Evan Rachel Wood playing a campaign intern; Wood’s character may be contrived but her scenes with Gosling are absolutely terrific.

There is chicanery, betrayal and, of course, a big, dark, ugly secret gets unearthed. In a movie full of standout performances, Gosling, whose quicksilver presence catches every shift and turn in his character’s transformation, rules. And with this, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Drive, he could be said to be the big story of the moviegoing year. Maybe The Ides of March uses a butter knife when a scalpel is required but it is still one of the few truly smart, grownup entertainments playing movie theaters right now.

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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