The Ides of March displays a very believable scenario in American politics that makes the viewer think twice about their respective political system. Unfortunately, the insight is not all pleasant. Back room deals, extortion, and fraternization all plague Morris’ (Clooney) campaign, which are eerily familiar to a late night breaking news story. Granted, it’s a broad generalization to say it happens as the movie portrays, but nonetheless these things have and do happen.
Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is an ambitious rising star in the political arena. Savvy to the game and at the top of his field he guides Morris, a presidential candidate he actually believes in, through the battleground state of Ohio’s democratic primary. His favorite reporter, Ida, teases him, “you really buy into all this crap. All this, take back the country nonsense.” It’s a tale all too familiar with the average American voter. The promises, the ideas, the innovation, the let down, the same cycle every four years. Nothing really changes though does it? Both parties have the same overall agenda: stay in power. It’s all fine and dandy as long as you get reelected. With a two party system it isn’t even necessarily about reelection as it is ensuring that the other side doesn’t get elected. Throughout the film the pedestal Stephen had Morris on came crashing down in a hotel room with a brutal verbal lashing from campaign manager Paul (Hoffman). In a flash, his undying loyalty disappears once his career is on the line. Stranded and excommunicated he plots his revenge, first being denied by opposing campaign manager (Giamatti). What had once seemed so promising turns dark in the blink of an eye.
In secret, in the back room of a bar’s kitchen, Stephen extorts Morris for his job back plus a promotion replacing Paul as Senior Head Campaign Manager. He then brokers a deal with a senator for delegates in exchange for a cabinet seat and presumably Morris goes on to win the nomination. Mind you, this is not even the presidential election; this was one faction of the political systems nomination process. How cutthroat is the real deal?
Morris is an excellent politician; he’s likable and good-looking. He also has a vision for the country and truly can make a difference. He find’s himself at odds with his beliefs when he has to compromise to win. In a conversation with his wife he states “Every time, I draw a line in the sand and then I move it. Fundraisers, union deals, I wasn’t going to do any of it. I won’t do it. Not with Thomsen.” The deal Stephen eventually makes to win the election for him. He means well but the reality was he has to win. Again, striking that familiar chord of current politics. Everyone wants to save the world, then they find out its not so easy. Also, maybe its just something about interns but they can’t seem to get enough of them. And just as strange the next day after a night with the ‘cleaning lady’ the speech emphasizes integrity. Go figure.
Overall I really enjoyed this film. It connects very well with the American viewer to describe a scenario often occurring in our modern day politics. How a system can be bribed, coerced, and manipulated to suit the agenda of those with the most money: or power. And how no one seems to care enough to make a change.