We watched this movie recently and I enjoyed it greatly. The Ryan Reynolds character comes to the realization of how dirty politics is through some brutal events. The candidates aren’t the stars here it’s the back room men (yes they are white males) that are the stars of the tale. The differences aren’t about ideals which are mocked but about what can “I” get, what can “we” get from doing this, or what damage can we inflict on the other side? It’s not a pretty picture but it’s a fascinating one to watch. Being a cynic wearing a hopeful human coat I could relate to the Ryan character. However honestly it’s the Marisa Tormei reporter character that sums up my true thoughts. Her statement in the bar to Ryan near the beginning of the tale was the most eloquent and succinct statement of my thoughts on politics today.
The painful disillusionment of Ryan’s character is interesting and powerful to watch. I think any of us that have seen a few elections know how it feels on some scale regardless of what side of the aisle come your political leanings. Oh of course it’s ramped up to add drama to the movie. The brutal crush of innocence and the innocent in the chase of the ultimate political power is a very old human story. To see it retold yet again with modern trappings is striking. Like most tragedies you want to look away, to not see it. Yet you can’t. I’m not sure if it’s morbid curiosity morbid fascination, lessons of a cautionary tale, or hope of redemption that kept me watching. I’d like to think it’s the latter but my gut said it’s the first and second.
This movie isn’t action driven. It’s a character driven tale. It moves subtly and builds with small but emotionally impactful turns for the main characters. Sometimes the off the cuff decisions change our life the most and that’s the start of this ride. Those decisions don’t always change it for the better. Once you see behind the curtain of how it works and what it takes to work you can’t unsee it. The magic is gone and the brutal knowledge will change a person. The question at the center of the movie is what will the main character do with his full knowledge of what goes on behind the curtain. THAT’S what kept me watching, THAT’S why I liked this move very much.
The slow destruction and reconstruction of a character is something amazing to watch. Good stories (as opposed to movie rides or comfort beach reading) are about the character arc – start here, experience story, then end there. A truly good story leaves the characters irrevocably changed. The change doesn’t have to be for the better, but it is drastic enough they can’t go back to who/where they were at the beginning. The Ides of March has that in spades for the main character played by Ryan. The events of the movie make him a different man. The tensions comes in not in the destruction of who he was but in the construction of who he is to be – what choices will he make, what events will push him to be that final incarnation of the character at the end. The power of this tale was I wasn’t sure just what I wanted that reconstruction to be given the setting. In the end I think Ryan’s acting gave us the answer unequivocally in his eyes in the final scene. The new character steps into his next story a changed man. The movie goer is left to ponder just what that change means.