Politics are often better left unseen. What we may discover will undoubtedly scare us and make us realize that notions like morals or common good are nonexistent in politics. It’s a harsh world, and quite frankly, there’s nothing we can do. George Clooney’s brilliant, well-acted and downright mesmerizing film The Ides of March embodies these unfortunate realities with unflinching honesty.
Based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, The Ides of March follows Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a fresh and intelligent kid who’s an adviser for Democrat Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney), whose campaign is led by Stephen’s boss Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman). Morris is inexperienced, but his presidential candidacy has a legitimate shot at the White House.
The Ides of March features a political atmosphere like few films I’ve seen. Ideals are tested, characters altered and any decency Morris or Stephen (among many others) possess in the beginning of the movie are ultimately relinquished by the film’s final shot.
Reminiscent of All The Presidents Men, Clooney’s tour-de-force of conventional yet dynamic filmmaking is on full display here. The characters beyond the major players include a plethora of fantastic supporting actors: Paul Giamatti as a slimy consultant for the a Democrat opponent, Even Rachel Wood as a young, seductive intern who gets more than she bargains for and Marisa Tomei as a devious journalist for the New York Times.
All of the characters contribute to Ides’ compelling, jaded, and cold-blooded storyline. There’s no good guy here. There’s just the corrupt, the cynical and all those in between. Some may find fault with the lack of a character to “root for”. But you see the film is not wishing for your pity or praise of characters. The Ides of March faces the facts of American government and politics without apathy. Even our protagonist, who at first seems to be an idealist inspired by Morris, ultimately succumbs to cynicism.
The plot unravels with multiple, suspenseful dirty secrets and lies. It’s troubling for anyone who cares for the well being of this country to see such supposed wise, compassionate men take part in such frivolous and sadistic acts. I suppose it all comes back to us. More often than not our own personal desires trump the common good. Politics should — in an idealistic, alternate reality sort of way — be fair, just and contain some sort of loyalty.
As a piece of art, Clooney has achieved something special with The Ides of March, sending a message to the American people about the corruption in our government that seemingly has gone unnoticed. It’s a spellbinding piece of work.
(3.5 Stars out of 4)
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