Claiming that George Clooney is politically involved would be an understatement. The actor and director was asked more than once if he had any plans to pursuit a political career and was adamant: no, too many skeletons in his closet made a career in politics impossible. The closest Clooney has gotten so far to running for office is co-writing and directing The Ides of March. If you’re unaware of the plot when watching the film, you see Clooney’s character Morris campaining with the ideas and talking points you can expect from a Democratic politician: greener environment, more jobs, that sort of babble. That this film is released during the search for a new Republican candidate is – I think – far from coincidental.
Clooney’s movie focuses not as much on Morris’s run for office as it does on what goes on beyond the doors of the campaign. It focuses on Ryan Gosling‘s character Stephen Meyers, who – together with seasoned lobbyist Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) – spins the words for Morris just the way they should be. Much to the dismay of Paul Giamatti‘s character, who’s the brain behind Morris’s competitor.
Add to this mix Molly, the talented intern (Evan Rachel Wood) who seems to have the hots for Meyers. Molly gets the best lines in the film: the scene where Gosling’s character falls for all her traps (“My name is Mary.” I know. “Actually, it’s Molly.”) is one of the more memorable parts of the movie.
After a slow build-up (so slow in fact the first half hour didn’t leave me much impressed) the film finally finds its breath and the story develops: Morris’s campaign is only apparent in the background and Clooney doesn’t have to show his face to have Morris’s integrity sink down. At the end of the film things have changed drastically for all the characters in the film but to the public things may very well look the same. The Ides of March shows the seedy underbelly of politics and all you can do is hope this won’t happen to your favourite candidate. Well, we can always dream… the ending seems to suggest all is but a vicious circle.
The Ides of March is a good film and another successful collaboration between Clooney and Grant Heslov (based on Beau Willimon‘s play Farragut North), but despite the momentum the film doesn’t have enough memorable lines and scenes to become the sort of classic film people in the 2020s will think of when they’re asked their favourite political film.