The Ides of March traditionally refer to the betrayal of Julius Caesar at the hands of conspirators led by Brutus. You’ll look in vain for one such victim in this film – unless you count the faint belief that any vestiges of idealism remain at work in American politics.
As Governor Mike Morris, the front man of a team trying to bring home the Ohio primaries (and the presidential nomination), Clooney and his team are smooth to the point of scary. Morris has all the right libertarian ideals. He looks good, he sounds good and he’s backed by a brilliant team: shooting star and political consultant Stephen Myers (Gosling), campaign manager Paul Zara (Hoffman) and a bevy of ambitious interns. Then mistakes are made. Or are they choices?
In two cleverly constructed bar scenes, Myers meets up with an intern (Wood) and with a rival (Giamatti) for two informal meetings that release the bottled genies of greed, pride and lust. Failure looms large, to be countered with the perfect antidote: political expediency. Masks fall and are readjusted, people are exchanged, new interns bring the coffee and the great American conspiracy is back on track: a Faustian façade of public morality maintained at the expense of decency. Dispiriting, but brilliantly so.
The Ides of March (Tage des Verrats) | Ditrected by George Clooney (USA 2011), with George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood. Starts December 22