The Ides of March depicts the underhanded duplicitous tactics, and overt power plays in a crucial Ohioan primary election for the aspiring Democrat candidate, Mike Morris (George Clooney). Squeaky clean and optimistic Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is Morris’s junior campaign manager who finds himself embroiled in an ever-escalating series of personal and career-compromising situations.
Despite commendable direction from Clooney, who makes the proceedings like a shadowy noir with some inspired lighting choices; while also injecting the numerous political chatter scenes with the tension and speed of Hitchcock and Hawkes respectively. One can’t help but find Ides of March’s various plot twists and character revelations surface-level in their depth.
Crucially, the entire narrative hinges on Gosling’s character succumbing to the shader side of politicking due to a fatal mistake that leads to desperation. While the storytelling cogs for these series of events are effortless and logical, they inherently lack any sense of tragedy or real aftertaste. This is due to Meyers having no real internal life and his sanguine worldview being solely shaped by Morris.
The Ides of March is an efficiently crafted political thriller with spirited performances from all its actors. But it has a fundamental tension between the reality it purports to represent and its characters being shackled by their archetypical and narrative trappings. The film would have been much more interesting if it embraced the origin of its title, by delivering a harrowing and tense tale of internal leader assassination in the context of an American presidential race.