The Ides of March
is a 2011 political thriller, starring George Clooney
, Ryan Gosling
, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood
. It was written and directed by Clooney
(with co-writers Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon), based on Willimon's play Farragut North
The plot centres around Stephen (Gosling), an idealistic staffer on the presidential campaign of Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), who discovers some rather disturbing secrets about Morris and has to decide whether his career is more important than his ideals.
Tropes In The Film:
- Adaptation Expansion: Morris never appears in the stage play.
- All-Star Cast
- Bastard In Sheep's Clothing: Morris
- California Doubling: Averted. Most of the film was shot in Clooney's childhood home of Cincinnati (bizarrely enough, the film's theatrical credits forgot to mention the city).
- Directed by Cast Member: Directed by Clooney himself.
- Double Standard:
"You can lie, you can cheat, you can start a war, you can bankrupt the country, but you can't fuck the interns. They get you for that."
- Downer Ending: The film ends with Stephen realizing that he has sacrificed all of his ideals for personal ambition.
- Driven to Suicide: Molly, after being essentially abandoned by Stephen and Morris after her abortion.
- Here We Go Again: Another attractive intern who shows up almost exactly like Molly, with Stephen's friend also trying the same chat-up line.
- He Who Fights Monsters: After spending most of the movie trying to fight against corrupt politics, Stephen embraces it.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Tom Duffy did not order buffalo wings during his conversation with Stephen. Significant, because that was a detail both men would have known, foreshadowing that the meeting was leaked by Paul.
- Literary Allusion Title: From Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
- Only Sane Man: Stephen could be seen as this.
- Reality Subtext: A conversation about what presidents can and cannot do is rather obviously comparing Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.
- Shout-Out: The "I Like Mike" slogan calls back to Eisenhower's "I Like Ike" slogan.
- The posters also have taken inspiration from the Barack Obama posters. (Believe, instead of hope, is the slogan.)
- The Bad Guy Wins: After the idealist Stephen discovers that Governor Mike Morris is a Manipulative Bastard, he goes through a lot of drama, only to continue helping Mike Morris win the Presidential race in the end - with him deciding to become a manipulative bastard himself.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Paul delivers an absolutely brutal one to Stephen.
- Sleazy Politician: Morris
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The ending is a little more open to interpretation, but otherwise it's non-stop cynicism. The message seems to be "Regardless of how awesome someone's policies and public face seems to be, they're still a bastard in private".
- Title Drop: Subverted. The film's working title of "Farragut North" gets name-dropped twice (it's where former campaign managers go when the campaign ends) while the film's actual title is never name dropped.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: Understanding much of the plot of the film such as why Senator Thompson's endorsement is so crucial requires some beyond basic understanding of the US presidential primary system. This might've hurt the film's overseas box office performance a bit.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Mike Morris. Stephen by the end of the film.
- What Might Have Been: Leonardo DiCaprio (who produced) and Chris Pine (who played the part onstage) were considered for the lead before Ryan Gosling was cast.
- Brad Pitt was signed on to play Paul Zara, but left due to scheduling conflicts with Moneyball and was replaced by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
- Working Title: The film was originally named "Farragut North", after the play it was based on. The name change to "The Ides of March" seems to have been a late one as there is no relation to the actual title (unless one interprets it as a modern-day Julius Caesar).
- Actually, there is a reference to the fifteenth of March aka The Ides of March early in the film.
- Xanatos Gambit: Tom's plan — as soon as Stephen walks into the bar, he wins. Either Stephen takes the job, and their campaign gains an asset, or he turns it down and confesses to Paul, in which case he gets fired and is no longer a factor. The worst case scenario would be him turning down the job and keeping his mouth shut, in which case he'd be lying to his own colleagues, which would drive a wedge between them.