If you’re not into politics, don’t let it deter you from seeing The Ides of March (out October 7), based on Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North. Despite its setting, it’s not really about politics. It’s more about a young idealistic man whose beliefs are tested in a cutthroat world, in effect asking the viewer, What would you do and how long would you last?

Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, a hotshot campaign secretary for presidential candidate Gov. Mike Morris (George Clooney, who also directed and co-wrote with Grant Heslov and Willimon). Myers is very good at what he does, making the governor seem like America’s last hope for salvation. But it’s not just spin. He can only sell it if he believes it, and he believes in Morris wholeheartedly. The political game being what it is, however, Myers soon encounters complications with an intern (Even Rachel Wood), the campaign manager of a rival candidate (Paul Giamatti), his own campaign manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an aggressive reporter (Marisa Tomei), and eventually Morris. We see Myers’s struggle to hang on to his morals and the question isn’t whether he has what it takes to rise in the ranks, it’s whether or not we want him to.

Gosling continues his hot streak after Crazy Stupid Love and Drive with another riveting performance. You can see his gradual transformation from the bright-eyed Myers at the beginning of the movie to the one at the end, whose eyes are noticeably harder. Gosling is one of the few young actors who can go toe to toe with Clooney in a pivotal scene and make the audience wonder who would come out on top. And while movie stars can sometimes bring too much baggage to a role, Clooney’s charm adds to the governor’s allure and keeps us guessing about whether he’s as perfect as he seems.

The supporting cast members turn in solid performances  but that’s no surprise from Giamatti, Tomei, Hoffman, and Jeffrey Wright. It helps that they have a sharp script to work with. Wood is too affected to measure up to everyone else, but even that doesn’t detract much from Clooney’s smart, tense drama.

Nerd verdict: Ides should prepare for March to the Oscars

Photos: Saeed Adyani



  • Reply
    Brett Battles
    October 5, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Ides should prepare for March to Oscars…………Oh, PCN, that deserves a groan….on the up side, it does convince me I need to see it.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2011 at 7:16 am

    I am so there when this one opens. Gosling is on a hot streak. Great review, Elyse. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Benoit Lelievre
    October 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I haven’t watched it yet, but it screams of the Oscars indeed. The casting is so meticulously picked. Gosling, Tomei and Wood are all hot right now and have been delivering great material in the last few years. Looking forward to this.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

    I have been admiring the movie poster for this film (the one with 1/2 Gosling’s face and 1/2 of Clooney’s face making one face?) It looks like a smart movie that will be released at just the right time. Can’t wait to see it.

    • Reply
      October 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

      I’ve been admiring that poster as well, Eirego.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

    So glad to hear your review, PCN. I was hoping that the expectations I had after seeing the trailer wouldn’t be trashed. Too often the movie just falls flat regardless of the casting. May actually venture to the theater for this one.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Been hearing great things about this one, but reading your approval certainly makes me crave to see the film a lot more.

    I think Gosling is a shoe-in for an Oscar nod, either for Drive or this film. If you were to choose, which one do you think is better?

    • Reply
      October 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

      Good question, Poncho. I, too, am curious about that one. I take it you’re a fan of DRIVE? That one is one of faves of the whole year.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    October 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Brett—I live to make you groan. As long as you see the movie, I’m good.

    le0pard13—I think you’ll like it or your money back! Not from me, just ask the theater manager.

    Benoit—They say if a director hires the right actors, half his job is done. Well, Clooney was no dummy when he did the casting, but he did his part, too, considering he wore three hats on this.

    EIREGO—Love the poster. This movie is just smart all around.

    Poncho & le0—I’d pick Drive, though if he gets a nom, it’s more likely to be for this because it’s more the kind of “prestigious” fare the Academy prefers.

  • Reply
    Paulette Feeney
    October 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I am so glad for your great review…have been waiting for this! March to Oscars made me groan (just a little bit) also, but I would have been much too polite to say so!

    • Reply
      October 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      when did my full name start showing up?

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    October 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    You know, not to take away from the really great review and serious content, but all I need to know: Does Gosling take off his shirt?

    And will you PLEASE include this info in any Gosling or Craig movie? Thanks. 😉

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    October 5, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    What a cast ~ I know that doesn’t always exceed the sum of its parts but this one does look good. Thanks, PCN!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    October 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Paulette—I know some of my nerd verdicts are groan-worthy. Some of the titles are just so hard for me to shoehorn into a clever line! Your name shows up however you enter it, so maybe you should cut back on the drunk commenting?

    jenn—You always ask the hard, challenging questions. Gosling doesn’t show his 8-pack the way he did in CSL but he does get to be flirtatious and sexy. I’ll remember to cover this in all future reviews of those guys’ movies. If there’s someone else you’d like to ask to the list, please let me know.

    Christine and Shell—A cast can only do so much without a good script and strong director. Here, it all works. Christine, I vote for a trip to the theater! (See what I did there? I wrote “vote” and, you know, it’s a political movie? BAM! Still groaning, Paulette?)

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