The Ides of March

The Ides of March

(M) Roadshow DVD/BD

Like Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, this compelling film explores the lure of power and the eternal themes of trust and betrayal, justice and mercy, and ends versus means.

Set in the context of a tightly contested US presidential primary, it’s told from the perspective of Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), a young campaign manager for Democratic candidate Mike Morris (George Clooney). Meyers’ decision to consider a job offer from the rival Democratic camp sets off a tragic series of events involving Morris, Meyers’ superior Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), young intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) and Meyers himself.

The impeccable plotting and pacing of this film are matched by its convincing characterisations. There are no heroes or villains here — only ordinary flawed human beings struggling to negotiate a morally complex, high-stakes world. Stand-out scenes include the wordless, chilling limousine meeting between Morris and Zara; the phone call alerting Morris to a terrifying realisation; and the climactic war-of-nerves confrontation between Morris and Meyers.

Clooney directed and co-wrote the excellent screenplay, which is based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon. The ensemble cast deliver flawless performances – among the most striking are Clooney’s depiction of smooth yet edgy charm; Gosling’s ambitious, youthful idealism metamorphosing into cynicism; and Hoffman’s world-weariness and quiet defeat.

A gripping and memorable film.

Katrina Samaras

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