The Ides of March

In the next year, our country will be engrossed with politics.  Candidates will crisscross the nation rallying the crowd and pledging to make bold action. Despite the well groomed faces and tailored suits, we won’t see the backstabbing and promises that candidates need to get elected.  George Clooney’s new film, The Ides of March, takes aim at politicians and the treachery behind the scenes.  This loosely true life political drama was adapted from a play, Farragut North, scripted by a former Howard Dean aid.

Ides, marks Ryan Gosling’s third staring role of the year.  Gosling plays Stephen Meyers, a young but experienced junior campaign manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney). While campaigning in the battle ground state of Ohio, problems begin to arise.  Morris’ senior campaign manger, Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) tries to secure a crucial delegate vote in Senator Pullman (Jeffery Wright) but can only do so if Morris offers him a cabinet position.  It becomes clear early on that the candidate Clooney is portraying had been shaped by his own political ideologies.  From foreign policy to gay rights, Morris seemed to stand for everything Clooney has rallied for in the past.  I hesitate from saying that this was a propaganda film pushing Clooney politics but it did express strong viewpoints.

As Morris rejects playing that type of game with Senator Pullman, Meyers’ meets with the competition’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti).  Duffy offers Meyers’ a job saying his candidate has secured Pullman and the election.  Before he can make up his mind, Meyer has to help an intern, Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) when she reveals that she is pregnant with Morris’ Child.  Meyer, also having a relationship with Stearns, feels obligated to fix the problem for his candidate. Trying to limit the exposure of this secret that could rock the campaign, Meyer pays for Stearns abortion and ticket home.  Wood’s story line is an all too common scene on the nightly news.  This plot point is a step before cliche, because men of power seem to want and need without knowing when to stop.  The conclusion of Wood’s storyline differentiates making her a sympathetic character.

Meyer returns from helping Stearns and is confronted by Zara.  Zara lectures Meyer’s on trust regarding a New York Times article reporting on his meeting with Duffy.  Meyers enraged, finds himself fired and seeking revenge.  Meyers knows the secrets to take down or propel Mike Morris to the Presidency but must cross his own moral values to do so.  The rest will be revealed when you see the film.It’s hard to pinpoint the villain in this story.  You could argue for each character but mostly for Paul Giamatti as Tom Duffy.  Even while playing the competition’s campaign manger and being the catalysis for the drama, Duffy represents something bigger.  The take away from Ides is the back alley drag out fights of politics.  Its not about ideologies but making promises and mud slinging. The villain is the political system.  Each character was corrupted and turned into a villain by the opportunity for power.  I walked out of the theater scared for the upcoming year.  While I am one person with one vote, it seems my vote doesn’t matter.  What matters is making the deals to get you into office. 

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