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The Ides of March

October 17, 2011

Few movies have made me leave a “sold out” screening at one theater to hunt down another time but The Ides of March did just that. 

Here we follow testing days before numbers reveal the outcome to a pivotal presidential primary for hopeful runner Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney [also director here, fantastic job!). Our story unfolds in Ohio with damage control campaign man, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) standing on a stage, testing the space, mocking a later speech made by his boss. Loyalty will be the point on which the plot spins as the faces of these two men become interchangeably guilty of the professionally unforgivable. A bedroom at 2:30 in the morning reveals more than post-coital bliss.

The Ides of March in Theaters

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The many stars (including the haunting Evan Rachel Wood) of this film could fill earlier versions of our great flag. Campaign head Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) encourages Mike to coax a man desiring a cabinet position. Without the endorsement of this official the race will be lost. Anxiety thickens when trust falters between comrades after a meeting with the opposing team under Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). These always exquisite performers give plane faces as to the jaded, bitter malaise basting political careers and, in short, stick a fork in one of these characters; they are done.

Post meeting, a great scene follows with Hoffman and Gosling silhouetted against familiar red and white stripes. These stripes provide no camouflage for the scandal ready to fly across pages. Yet, blood-splattered headlines would reach no great end.

This film’s genius falls in the lines of dialogue that show men’s continuing ability to swallow dark secrets for the hopeful, greater good. To paraphrase a shocking line and leave you hanging in the process, They’ll forgive you for lots of things, they’ll let you start a war, cheat, steal, but you can’t…  they’ll getcha for that. Sad reality when this mistake trumps all other atrocities.

Anthony Weiner comes to mind.

Acknowledging the faults of man should always be easy but never will be when so many faces are fueled by their own interests, bias and underlying agendas. Upon seeing this film voters may become disillusioned regarding the veil of perfection surrounding their chosen man or woman in a race. We can elevate anyone to certain plains of grandeur but peaks allow for fatal falls. To be cryptic, the great accomplishment of this present day drama lets light fall on the person for whom we vote and the person behind the vote itself.

I heard the buzz, saw the poster and simply wanted to see something outside of the blow ’em up, shake ’em up, wow ’em with spectacle action flick (which mind you, I love). I wanted to watch an American movie that embraced ugly truths, acknowledged hypocrisy, and featured daunting performances and just like any worthy Presidential candidate I got more than the bargain. Surpassing my expectations in all shades and colors while renewing some shaken feelings for the red, white and blue, it is The Ides of March directed by George Clooney.

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