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Politics Provide Compelling Drama in ‘Ides of March’

“Beware the Ides of March.”

In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, that is what a fortune teller warns the Roman dictator. The fortune teller is referring to March 15th on the Roman calender, the day Caesar dies by being stabbed 23 times by his fellow senators. The warning is an ominous message of what can happen when people turn on one another.

It comes as no surprise that the movie “The Ides of March” carries over much of these themes: Politics, loyalty, betrayal and backstabbing.

The all-star cast includes Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood and Marisa Tomei. Add that with a pulse-pounding pace and tastefully artistic cinematography, “The Ides of March” has all the ingredients of an instant-classic.

The film follows junior campaign manager Stephen Myers (Gosling) working for Democratic presidential hopeful Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). Myers, along with his mentor and head campaign manager Paul Zara (Hoffman), are the best at what they do. “The Ides of March” centers around the Democratic primaries in Ohio, a state that’s support would almost certainly guarantee Morris’s nomination as the Democratic candidate.

It is a very complex time for Myers, who is approached with a job by the opposing candidate’s campaign manager, Tom Duffy (Giamatti). When he admits to Zara that he met with Duffy, his loyalty is called into question. Myers also has an encounter with young Molly Stearns (Wood), an attractive intern who harbors a dark secret–a secret that has the power to change the outcome of the election.

Things with the campaign heat up as Myers learns that his candidate, Morris, is not the warm and kind man he appears to be. And as time leading up to the Ohio election shortens, Myers comes under fire for some of the campaign-altering secrets he withholds. The decisions he makes lead up to a climactic and tragic ending, where everything will be on the line come voting day, Mar. 15.

There is a feeling of intensity throughout the movie because of the gravity of the situation. Something that would mean disaster to the average person is magnified greatly because of the fact that these issues involve a man who has a high possibility of leading the nation in the future.

The entire cast had superb performances, with a particularly strong job in Philip Seymour Hoffman, who delivered many intense speeches, most notably one about the value of loyalty. He portrays his character with a gritty and serious demeanor that combines the feeling of an experienced leader with a no-nonsense attitude. His performance is reminiscent of Jeff Bridges in “True Grit.”

Ryan Gosling portrays his character with a charming and intelligent aura, and paired with his recent movie “Drive,” it wouldn’t be surprising to see him taking home an Oscar at the next awards, or at least in the near future. He radiates confidence in his acting, and his ability to be cool without trying too hard could make him this generation’s Brad Pitt. He is a breath of fresh air in an era of cliches and wannabes.

The movie is based off Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North”, and the movie version was directed and co-written by George Clooney. This is not the first film Clooney worked behind the camera on, directing and co-writing two other movies, one of which (“Good Night and Good Luck”) received nominations for multiple writing and directing awards.

The world of politics is a distant one for most viewers, but “Ides” shows a rare behind-the-scenes look at presidential campaigns, and proves to be as entertaining and thrilling as it is interesting. The events that unfold keep the viewer on the edge of their seat from the opening scene to when the credits roll.

All in all, the movie is an insight into the lying and two-faced world that is modern-day politics. With flawless acting and a captivating plot, “The Ides of March” is definitely a movie you won’t want to miss.

Three and a Half out of Four Stars

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Nick May

This is Nick's first semester writing for the Harbinger. He is a Junior. He enjoys playing lacrosse for East as well as snowboarding and supporting the Ohio State Buckeyes and the CIncinnati Bengals. Read Full »

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