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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Ides of March | George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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  Ides of March

Think lies, betrayal and hypocrisy.  Now you’re ready to join the crucial Ohio Democratic primary of Arkansas Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney) in a run for the White House.

Morris has assembled a sharp staff that includes Campaign Manager Paul Philip (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Press Secretary Steven Meyers (Ryan Gosling) who spins any and all Morris information and runs with the official campaign strategy.  Always.  Key Morris campaign intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) is the daughter of the Democratic National Committee chair, no less, which does not exempt her from being a coffee go-fer.

Opposing candidate Senator Pullman (Michael Mantell) has savvy campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) who knows a good thing when he sees it and tries to woo Steven over to Pullman’s side.  Tom has inside knowledge about a key endorsement from Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) that could decide the race.  Does Steven want in?

No, Steven doesn’t, and this sets off a series of underhanded double-dealings and surprising revelations that culminate in blackmail, scandal, upheaval and tragedy for all involved.  But this is politics, after all, which gives the players an exoskeleton of toughness that allows the corruption to flourish, including sexual indiscretions.

On the trail of all the dirt and dish is Washington Post reporter Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei) scoop-hungry and ready to play hardball.

Political insider machinations are always fascinating with their clandestine talks full of information and recrimination.  Deals are set, promises are made; then the next day it happens all over again, with the players shuffled around like chess pieces.  There’s always a fresh crop of new recruits ready and willing to learn the slippery ropes.

Actor/director/writer George Clooney (God Night and Good Luck) displays his prowess as a triple threat here with a smart script (co-written with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon) an utterly eely performance and a compelling awareness of quiet tension that makes areas containing private conversations seem like they are full of verbal detonation devises just waiting to explode.

Gosling’s conflicted character rides a high horse while Hoffman’s and Giamatti’s veteran politicos reek of inevitable compromise.  Clooney captures the smug, self-assurance of a man used to getting his way.  Evan Rachel Wood’s Molly is a girl who should get used to being used, but somehow never does.  Tomei’s decidedly non-glamorous screen time is short, but represents the media’s discretion in either shaking up the status quo – or maintaining it.

Ides of March is a fascinating look at the ruthless jockeying for power that takes place within a political campaign, snaring everyone from hardened, high profile politicians to idealistic interns within its volcanic vortex.

It’s hard NOT to get burned, and as the title implies, hard to pull the knives out when it’s YOUR back that’s the target.

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