Title: The Ides of March
Directed by: George Clooney
Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood
Political films often strive to showcase the views of the director and screenwriter, and often times only appeal to the people who agree with their opinions. While George Clooney, who not only starred in the new political drama ‘The Ides of March,’ but also directed, co-wrote and produced it as well, infused his liberal beliefs into the movie, he also created unique characters that audiences can relate to. The filmmaker interestingly didn’t just present his views in the film, which is based on the play ‘Farragut North’ by Beau Willimon; he also showed how they can change people’s attitudes, beliefs and personalities.
‘The Ides of March’ follows Junior Campaign Manager Stephen Myers (played by Ryan Gosling), who is working to help secure the Democratic presidential candidacy for Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris (played by Clooney). Stephen works under Mike’s Senior Campaign Manager, Paul Zara (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), as they strive to win the Ohio primary, which will nearly guarantee the nomination.
After a debate, Myers is asked by rival Campaign Manager Tom Duffy (portrayed by Paul Giamatti) to switch campaigns and work for Mike’s rival, Senator Pullman, who is also striving for the Democratic nomination. Myers is initially weary about not working for his friend anymore, but his views of Mike change after he discovers a secret between the governor and intern Molly Stearns (played by Evan Rachel Wood). The campaigner also becomes upset after his meeting with Tom is leaked by his presumed friend, New York Times reporter Ida Horowicz (portrayed by Marisa Tomei).
While ‘The Ides of March’ is one of Clooney’s major projects, Gosling is the main actor to watch in the political drama. He convincingly portrays Stephen as someone who strives to succeed in his political career, and enjoys devoting his life to his professional aspirations. As the scandalous events in the film unfold, Gosling naturally develops, matures and transforms his character, based on the corrupted and selfish acts of his fellow politicians. Stephen wants to do the right thing and positively change Americans’ lives, but becomes discouraged when he sees what Mike, Paul, Tom and even Ida will do to further their careers at the expense of others. His optimism fades and is replaced by cynicism when he realizes he betrayed his ideals for political success and revenge.
Not everyone will agree with the characters’ actions, particularly Stephen and Mike’s, but Clooney successfully showed as the screenwriter and director what lengths politicians will go to in an effort to win and cover their immoral actions. Audiences will surely question the secret deals campaigners and politicians will make in an effort to further their agendas. Mike, for example, puts on a charming public act in an effort to convince his opponents who question his modern, atheist views what a great choice he would be for president. But he has no qualms about wanting to fire Stephen for not being loyal to him after meeting with Tom.
Not all audiences will find watching a political movie entertaining. But Clooney skillfully adapted ‘Farragut North,’ and showcased the secret deals and manipulations occurring behind the scenes of major American political campaigns. While the actor’s character holds no regrets over the unethical decisions he makes to achieve his presidential dream, Gosling was perfectly able to show that some politicians are affected by the cynical aspect of the business. ‘The Ides of March’ aimed to show Mike’s tireless effect to win over his target voters, but ultimately proved that some politicians realize that unethical campaigning isn’t the best way to run the country.
Written by: Karen Benardello