The Ides of March (Blu-ray)
When I hear about political thrillers, I generally think “hmmm, that sounds interesting” and then move on to other, more mindless fair. While I enjoy movies that make me think, brains does not equal entertainment for me most of the time. For this reason, when I heard about THE IDES OF MARCH when it was released theatrically, I thought it sounded interesting. When I heard that Ryan Gosling would be teaming up with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and George Clooney for the movie, I was intrigued. But neither ‘interesting’ nor ‘intriguing’ got me out of my house to see THE IDES OF MARCH at the theater on one of my coveted date nights with my wife. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m sorry that we didn’t.
THE IDES OF MARCH is the story of Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling of CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE), an idealistic young media genius who has quickly risen the ranks of the Democratic National Committee. Stephen is a campaign manager for Governor Mike Morris (the indomitable George Clooney) during the democratic primary election. The story is told over a quick 2-3 week period as the race for the nomination is heating up and Morris is suddenly starting to lose ground. Morris appears to be a relative newbie to the national political scene, but it is clear from the start that Stephen truly believes in his candidate. He is proud when Morris takes a stand early in the film and refuses to work with a senator who’s views are so counter to his own – even though it could cost him the election.
When Stephen is privately asked to meet with rival campaign manager Tom Duffy (Giamatti), his ego forces him to take the meeting. Duffy offers Stephen a job on the other campaign and scoffs at Stephen’s loyalty to Morris. When Stephen leaves the meeting he decides not to mention it to his own senior campaign manager (Seymour Hoffman) and goes back to work. What he doesn’t realize is that privately meeting with Duffy will set things into motion that could destroy the campaign and his life.
This movie is about the back-stage politics that occur during primaries and it is eye-opening. Stephen believes that he has found a perfect candidate – someone who stands for something decent and who he really thinks can make a difference. But, as we all know, no one is perfect. What THE IDES OF MARCH does so very well is that it tells the story of a young man’s loss of faith. This is a movie about the process of allowing yourself to slip down the slope of morality for what you believe, for what you hope. Stephen believes in Mike Morris, so when he starts to unearth Morris’s indiscretions he reacts strongly to protect this man in whom he has invested so much.
THE IDES OF MARCH is a political thriller that does what thrillers aim to do – it has you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Minor spoiler alert (this is sarcastic, probably not going to spoil it for anyone) – at no point during the film is there a chance that anyone in the movie is in direct physical danger. You aren’t worried about them getting assassinated or going to war or even watching some criminal masterminds (unless you think of politicians that way). The beauty of THE IDES OF MARCH lies in the films simple structure in showing the political process as the backdrop for our story. In fact, the only part of the movie that really doesn’t work is the conflict central to the plot… it’s just too trite, too obvious, and the character reactions to it are too despicable for my taste (and don’t really fit the rest of the tone of the movie, in my opinion). This dampened my enjoyment but doesn’t detract from the incredible performances.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The picture is crisp and clear and will look great on your home television.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) The audio works really well, thanks to a phenomenal mix that really plays up the tension.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director George Clooney and Writer Grant Heslov This commentary is well done and steadily paced throughout the movie. You might recognize Writer Hezlov’s voice from his character in TRUE LIES (the third wheel of the spy team with Arnie and Tom Arnold). This is a fairly technical commentary with lots of little details about their process, but it is very interesting to hear.
Believe: George Clooney (06:19) This featurette focuses on Clooney’s work both behind the scenes and on camera. His fourth directorial feature, this movie shows just how far he’s come as a filmmaker.
On the Campaign: The Cast of The Ides of March (05:49) This quick featurette contains snippets of various cast-members discussing their characters.
Developing the Campaign: The Origins of The Ides of March (07:08) This feature focuses on the process of adapting the screenplay from the stage work originally titled Farragut North.
What Does a Political Consultant Do? (07:29) This is a great, quick feature with interviews with the political consultants hired by Clooney and Co. to help them write and shoot the movie. It’s very interesting, if a little disheartening, to think that this really is at the core of our democratic system.
This Blu-ray package also includes a copy of the movie via the new standard, UltraViolet Digital Copy, which allows you to either stream or download the movie.