There is no subtlety in the title of George Clooney’s terrific new directing effort, The Ides of March, a direct allusion to the day Caesar was betrayed by senators, including his close friend Brutus. Yes, Ides is a story of betrayal, hypocrisy and of the politicians who have run this country (and every other province, empire, etc.) from the beginning of time.
The story centers on junior campaign manager Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling). Gosling’s work in the past year has taken him from a very good actor to one of the two or three best actors working in Hollywood.
He works under senior campaign manager Paul Zara, played by the immensely talented Philip Seymour Hoffman. These two run the campaign for Senator Mike Morris, played by Clooney (who also wrote and produced the movie, in addition to starring and directing). This ridiculously talented cast is rounded out by Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood. It is Giamatti, the opposing campaign manager, who stands out among this elite corps. The cast alone warrants a watch.
While this is a political drama, the issues discussed in the primary debates and town hall meetings take a back seat to the ethical decision-making that goes into running a presidential campaign. Ides is not a complicated film; it’s about the choices people make. As one character said, "It’s not what you did, but what you didn’t do."
This film is about the inevitable shift from starry-eyed idealist to cutthroat realist. It’s a political coming-of-age tale for a newcomer to the political game, and the message is clear: There are no dirty politics, just politics.