Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movie Review: Ides of March

Every now and then, I find a movie that eludes the standard categories and predictable plot lines, a movie that sticks with me for months, if not years.

Ides of March was such a movie. The phenomenal acting, intense plot, and captivating lines combined to create a memorable story, brilliantly directed by George Clooney. Stephen Meyers (played by Ryan Gosling) is a young idealist working on a presidential primary campaign for the driven, intelligent Mike Morris (George Clooney). Conflict in the movie arises as the personal, political, and professional ambitions of the characters collide and the Ohio presidential primary draws near.

Although I won't give away the ending, I will warn any potential viewers that the movie was not light-hearted. The themes are heavy and the ending is dark. Some movies allow viewers to walk away with a bright vision of the world. Not so with Ides of March.

In a good story, the characters have choices. In Ides of March, the characters consistently make the wrong ones. Not once, not twice, but every time a character in this movie is faced with the choice between their welfare and the well-being of another, between ambition and compassion, between an easy lie and a hard truth, they take the wrong turn.

And the most terrifying part of this movie is that the bad choices, the wrong choices, even the inhumane choices, are never hard to make. It's easy to relate to the characters and sometimes it's even easy to justify their choices. And then when disaster strikes as the moral fall-out from their decisions ensues, viewers will feel awkwardly surprised because, like the characters, they didn't see the fall-out coming.

I walked away from Ides of March feeling uncomfortable, not because I was shocked by the behavior of the characters, but because I didn't feel shocked enough. In the world of Ides of March, betrayal was all too easy. Audiences will walk away uncomfortably uncertain that, faced with the same choices, we would behave any differently. And this discomfort is possibly the most redeeming feature of Clooney's movie.

1 comment:

Monica Jacobson said...

Amazing review, and far too close for comfort to what I feel politics must be.