[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] I [/dropcap] f you really want to hate George Clooney, this will help because he wrote, directed and stars in The Ides of March. The title allusion to Julius Caesar lacks subtlety, but is perfectly appropriate. This is a story of loyalty, deception and betrayal on the campaign trail.
Clooney is the candidate and Ryan Gosling is the young campaign press secretary who works for Philip Seymour Hoffman. The opponent’s campaign manager is Paul Giamatti. Gosling gets tossed into upheaval by Giamatti, who plays on his personal ambitions versus his candidate loyalty. That is the set-up for the whole conflict. It is well written and well orchestrated and we feel Gosling’s angst.
The Ides of March tosses in some sexual tension by Gosling enlisting innocent staffer Evan Rachel Wood and spurning the press advances of Marisa Tomei. Gosling rates sex WAY below power and advancement, so there’s one thing most of us can’t relate to. The other comes when Gosling succeeds in scraping his mistake off onto Philip Seymour Hoffman, who gets fired. PSH walks off and tosses back that it’s no big deal because he’s headed for K Street and a million dollar job…..and you know he hates losing his $100k job. A hedge fund guy would take the money and find a way to make the gig more powerful and not shed a tear over the loss, but, hey, this is politics, where momentary power is all-powerful.
Do you remember the 1974 Robert Redford movie. The Candidate? In that film the ending is more powerful than the rest of the film because Redford wins and says to his campaign manager….”now what?”. It reminds us that the journey has overtaken the destination. At the end of The Ides of March, Ryan Gosling, who has “won” stares at the camera for a long moment. It makes us wonder as Redford did…..whether there is any “there” there behind all the President’s men.