Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DVD REVIEWS - The Ides of March

The pressure of trying to run a successful political campaign is undeniable. We can deduce this simply from watching the effort put in by candidates on their campaign trail, hopping from location to location, speaking and debating until you either accept defeat or you emerge victorious. To make matters worse, these politicians and their staff members constantly find themselves under attack by those who do not want to see them succeed. Faced with this adversity, the atmosphere of a campaign quickly turns into a BAMN situation. The only goal? Win, by any means necessary.

And that is the view that The Ides of March, presents to moviegoers. To win, to climb ahead, to do whatever it takes to come out on top. That certainly is the mantra of Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), the press secretary for the Pennsylviania State Governor and presidential candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney). He believes in what Gov. Morris stands for as a candidate, but more importantly, he believes in himself. He doesn't look forward to one day seeing Gov. Morris in the White House, but instead basking in the reflected glory that would ultimately land him a job on Pennsylvania Ave.

Those that Meyers encounters during the Ohio Primary, including Morris' campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as well as Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), campaign manager for the rival Democratic candidate are all seasoned veterans. As such, they have a more realistic grasp of the political world. Zara believes that there is nothing more important than loyalty and Duffy shows a prowess to manipulate others for the benefit of his campaign. These men outwardly display the fatigue of countless political campaigns and demonstrate that they will do whatever they have to to ensure the success of their candidate.

The tension created by the primary leads the players looking for any form of release. For Meyers, it means having sexual encounters with a gorgeous young intern Molly Stearn (Evan Rachael Wood), leading her to confide in Meyers a secret that could bring his dreams crashing down around him. As the story presses on and Meyers faces wave after wave of adversity, his eager and idealistic mindset erodes to expose a dark, amoral core which is hellbent on his own success. Herein lies the most important question the film poses to its audience: is it possible for a politician to emerge victorious from a campaign without compromising their original ideals and beliefs?

The all-star cast, which also includes Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright, displays that the strength of the film is in the acting, with Gosling leading the charge with another stunning performance. And while corruption, blackmailing, and extortion in the world of politics are by no means revolutionary viewpoints, The Ides of March still does a fantastic job portraying how the immense pressure of a political campaign can expose people for who they really are.