by Rachel O’Kelley
Based on the title alone, “The Ides of March” seems like just another rendition of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” While it does bring dirty politics and conspiracy to the table, it does so in a contemporary setting, making the plot eerily realistic in this dark, political thriller.
The film opens in the middle of a highly competitive Ohio presidential primary, as Governor Mike Morris’ campaign frantically prepares. The audience is immediately introduced to Morris’ campaign press secretary, Stephen Myers, a young newcomer to the political arena.
Just days before the primary, Myers is faced with a game-changing dilemma, a scandal that could very well eradicate Morris’ chance as a presidential candidate. From here the scandal quickly escalates and wraps the audience up in a whirlwind of political intrigue and ethical quandary.
In addition to a captivating plot, this movie boasts an A-list cast, with George Clooney as Gov. Morris, who also directed the film, Ryan Gosling as Stephen Myers, and Paul Giamatti as Tom Duffy. While the film revolves around Morris’ campaign, the audience sees very little of Clooney on-camera, and is left to base his character on what other characters make of him. Gosling begins as what could be considered a small character next to Clooney’s political figure character, but quickly becomes the protagonist as he struggles with the scandal he suddenly becomes involved in.
Once the scandal is unveiled, the audience soon identifies with Myers, can expect surprises around every corner and will learn to trust no one in the film.
The film was given an R-rating for casual, but not excessive use of pervasive language and adult themes, which are applied with subtlety and caution.
While the film deals with a number of current political and ethical issues that may strike some audiences as off-limits in most situations, the film executes these touchy subjects tastefully.
In that way, the film possesses boldness with these difficult topics that many movies shy away from today in fear of losing audiences. The raw, emotional quality of the film is both refreshing and mentally stimulating.
The subtleties in the film are outstanding; each scene containes so much more than the immediate content. In several scenes, the audience is given information without the use of dialogue. For example, one scene in particular utilizes a phone call, which, as audiences will learn, carries so much more weight than the use of dialogue could have ever done.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, top critics gave this film an 82 percent, while audiences raised it even higher to 84 percent.
“A political thriller exploring themes of loyalty, ambition and the gap between public ideals and private fallibility, it engages the brain within the context of a solid entertainment,” said David Gritten of The Daily Telegraph.
There were mixed feelings among critics, some saying the only downfall of the film lies in extension of the plot. Some felt it dragged on longer than was necessary, but many also contradicted that, giving it such a high overall score online.
In the end, the audience is left with no more conclusion than they began with. Clooney left the film with an open end to allow his audiences to decide for themselves. Though it may have felt unfinished to some, the loose ends left many with a haunting awareness of the film’s cynicism and tangibility that will not soon be forgotten.
So, as the headline suggests, beware “The Ides of March,” but don’t miss this movie.