This is, or maybe was, a pretty good example of an “Oscar bait” film. In case you never heard of that term, it’s a film that has grade A acting, directing, writing, etc. It pretty much has to make critics swoon about some aspect of the movie if not the whole thing, and then come awards season, it racks up the nominations to various other awards and may get close, if not winning, the Academy Award itself.
Well, when this movie first came out, I remember it had some of that buzz going for it. But now that the nominations have since gone out, there isn’t as much buzzing about it these days. Don’t get me wrong, it picked up an adapted screenwriting nod, but that’s it. No noms for Gosling, Hoffman, Giamatti, or Clooney (for acting or directing, but he did get one for writing), or Best Film. Perhaps they’d be well deserved if some of the other better films weren’t chosen or released last year. Perhaps.
But I don’t write my reviews for Oscar audiences. I break down whether or not I think the movie is any good or even worth watching. The Ides of March isn’t that great of a movie and is only worth watching if you’re a fan of any of these characters and/or a fan of political thrillers.
In other words, I thought these actors did a great job with this movie. I thought the story (after it was over and I let it sink in) was very well written. The hint someone gave me to help me appreciate the film better I’ll share with you in one word: cycle*. But overall, watching the movie, I was bored.
Let me not mix up “boring” and “bored” here, there were things happening in mostly every scene. I don’t know (or remember) if every scene was absolutely needed or crucial to the plot, but sometimes I just felt things were moving too slow. It’s a bad sign when I start looking up how long the movie is and how much longer before it ends. It’s also the bad version of “I don’t know where this is going” attitude. Meaning, let’s hurry it up and get to the point. (The good version of that attitude is when there are interesting plot twists or a story that feels new and original.)
I really wanted to like this movie. And to certain aspects, I do. I don’t blame the actors, but I think I made that point clear. Clooney is a pretty good director too. I didn’t care for his football movie that I’m not going to bother looking up, but he’s a very talented guy overall. Maybe he’s to blame for my un-satisfaction? Or maybe it’s just this particular movie. Perhaps I may even compare this to the Clooney vehicle Michael Clayton. (I’ll be honest, I don’t remember it well and when I watched it, I didn’t really like it.) To me, it has the same vibe. Pale blue tint, dreary setting with dreary characters.
Now getting more to the plot of the story, the print ad showing Gosling holding a magazine to his face with Clooney on the cover is perfect. I mean, that ad alone got me interested and told me so much what the film is about. Gosling is either obsessed and stalking Clooney, or he’s the man behind his success. Fortunately, my latter guess was correct. The more successful Clooney is, the more successful Gosling becomes.
Clooney is running for president. Gosling is 2nd in charge running his campaign, telling him what to do or say and spins anything that would hurt the candidate. Hoffman is Gosling’s boss. Giamatti is running the campaign for the candidate running against Clooney. Toss some promiscuous interns and a nosy reporter in the mix and you get a good old fashioned political scandal ensemble film. It almost becomes a cliche of a film, but there’s enough going on to give the film it’s own unique flavor.
So overall, I recommend this movie if you’re a political junkie and like movies about things like this. While I like many things about this movie, I probably wouldn’t watch this again. I know how contradicting I might sound, but I think putting it more simply, it’s like a good song on tape being played on a tape deck that’s timing is a wee bit too slow.
*In case you missed it, what the elder campaign leaders warned would happen, did happen, like it happened to them and will continue to happen after them.