Blu-ray Review: The Ides of March

The Ides of March Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Sony | DIRECTOR: George Clooney | CAST: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 1/17/2012 | PRICE: DVD $30.99, Blu-ray $35.99
BONUSES: commentary, featurettes
SPECS: R | 101 min. | Political thriller | 2.40:1 aspect ratio | 5.1 DTS-HD audio | English, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

The Ides of MarchNominated for four Golden Globe awards, The Ides of March features a good cast exploring the dirty side of politics.

Clooney ably plays Governor Mike Morris, a Presidential candidate who has the potential to really make a difference if he makes it to the White House. Set in the time leading up to the pivotal Ohio primary, the movie follows Morris’ campaign workers, mostly Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), who believes the work he’s doing will help change the world.

After meeting with the campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) of the opposing candidate, Meyers tumbles into problem after problem until the levels of deviousness on the both sides are revealed. There are no nice guys in this story, from Meyers who feels it’s fine for him to have an affair with an intern but not his candidate, to Meyers’ boss (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who will happily ruin a man’s career if it makes a move look better in the press, and even to the political reporter (Marisa Tomei) who doesn’t mind a little blackmail if it’ll get her a scoop.

All the movie’s actors do a fine job, and Clooney’s direction is precise and keeps the tension high.

The original play on which the movie is based, Farragut North, doesn’t feature the candidate and instead focuses specifically on the background antics — many illegal — of the people running the campaign. For the film, Clooney and producer Grant Heslov wanted to “up the stakes,” as they say in the Blu-ray featurette “Developing the Campaign: The Origin of The Ides of March.” So they brought in the candidate and made him the immoral center of the story.

That move gives the film a very different feel. Sure, it’s still the dirty side of politics, but a Presidential candidate who’s not a saint? That’s nothing new. And with the focus on his actions, the scandalous dealings of the campaign managers is pushed to the back-burner.

While “Developing the Campaign” is an interesting looking at the background of the film and how it evolved from the play, another featurette on the Blu-ray, “George Clooney: Believe” is great for Clooney fans, just skip over all the “he’s such a genius” parts by actors at the beginning. About halfway through the six-minute piece, we see footage of Clooney joking around behind the camera as he directs the film, which is fun, but the rest plays like a Vote For Clooney campaign ad.

Perhaps the most interesting featurette if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of politics is “What Does a Political Consultant Do?,” which features political consultant Stuart Stevens talking about how closely the film mirrors real life campaigns.

The movie’s casting in discussed in the brief piece “On the Campaign: The Cast of The Ides of March,” and the only other special feature on the Blu-ray is a commentary with Clooney and Heslov. They are comfortable and Clooney is funny in the track, offering behind-the-scenes stories and pointing out the shots featuring various members of Clooney’s family. It’s an interesting listen.

 

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.