Gone is the naïve idealism of Jefferson Smith (one doubts in today’s climate that he’d actually make it to Washington and if so it would be doubtful if he would make it out alive) and it is replaced with a thriller cloaked in political theater.
You wonder how anyone of worth is elected anymore. Certainly idealism is beaten down by spin.
Gov. Mike Norris (George Clooney) is trying to secure the nomination in the democrat primary to lock in his run for president. That isn’t turning out to be easy as he is facing stiff competition for the nomination, led by rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). Norris’ manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and deputy campaign manager Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) provide a steady flow of leaks and dealings to try and give him the upper hand in the race, including cozying up to reporter Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei).
Stephen also finds himself getting familiar with intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachael Wood). To lock in the nomination, both groups are going after Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright) and his 356 delegates and both think they have a lock on getting them. However, when Duffy asks to meet with Stephen things take and unexpected turn as well as Stephen finding out that his candidate has more secrets than he expected.
Politics is a dirty business and Clooney’s thriller certainly shows it as such with backroom deals and one-upmanship running rampant. Gone are the days of Mr. Smith going to Washington (actually, it may be argued that even in the time that film was released that it was a unbelievable bit of Capra corn).
Candidates bend to whatever their audience wants to hear, no matter if it goes against their expressed principles. That makes it looks like they don’t have any and no core values. The film also shows that idealism is trumped by political machinations, shrewd chess-like gamesmanship and countermoves, and spin.
It has a feeling of currency since much of Norris’ campaign reflects both the Obama campaign and we’re currently in a nomination process. The film is well cast and acted with all the cast hitting their marks. You just may never look at a political campaign the same way again.
The Ides of March is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1). Special features, presented in high definition, include a commentary by Clooney and producer/co-writer Grant Heslov, the 7 minute “Developing the Campaign” shows how the film evolved, the 6 minute “Believe” touts Clooney behind and in front of the camera, the 6 minute “On the Campaign” interviews the rest of the cast and their characters, and the 7 minute “What Does a Political Consultant Do?” tries to answer that.
You get previews of other Sony products, the disc is BD-Live enhanced, and you get an Ultraviolent digital copy.
George Clooney steps behind the camera and comes away showing the ugly underbelly of the political process. He does so with some fine performances and casting, but this look will certainly put you off a candidate since they’re idealism may be carefully crafted to garner your vote and not reflect their inner intentions. Et tu Brute?
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