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Film / The Ides of March

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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.note 

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.
  • Bastard In Sheep's Clothing: Morris, while in public, appears as a progressive and idealistic candidate with a strong desire to improve people's lives. However, in private, he is revealed to be capable of duplicity and is involved in an affair with a young and naive college student.
  • 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 Morris win the presidential race in the end - with him deciding to become a manipulative bastard himself.
  • Blackmail: In the end, Stephen blackmails Morris: either he fires Paul Zara and hires Stephen back, or Stephen discloses a letter written by Molly where she tells about her affair with Morris (the said letter actually does not exist).
  • Chekhov's Gun: The identical cell phones given to the campaign staffers in the beginning. Later, Stephen picks up Molly's phone because he thinks that it is his. So he will hear that Molly had a relationship with Morris.
  • 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.
  • Election Day Episode: An ongoing Presidential Election is the backdrop of this drama as Stephen Meyers works on the campaign of Mike Morris.
  • The Film of the Play: The film is based on a 2008 play by Beau Willimon, named Farragut North.
  • Friends with Benefits: Or rather colleagues with benefits in the case of Molly and Stephen. After they have sex for the first time, Stephen makes clear that Molly should not expect anything from this relationship.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Inverted. Molly has an abortion, but this is depicted as the best option that she has and she is depicted as a victim. The experience is still traumatic for her.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Hinted at. Morris attempts to lean on Stephen to gain Molly's suicide note. Stephen is able to brush him aside.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Averted. Morris is openly non-religious and states he cannot know if God or an afterlife exist, but also acts non-bitter, is entirely respectful of others' belief and states in the film that even if he doesn't share your religion, he'd fight to the death for your right to hold it. Subverted as he's a power hungry scumbag underneath his tolerant rhetoric and Reasonable Authority Figure attitude.
  • 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.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life:
    "You broke the only rule in politics. You wanna be president? 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."
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Morris and Molly have sex once. Molly gets pregnant and she must have an abortion.
  • Married to the Job: Stephen tells Morris that he is married to the Governor's campaign. Ben tells the same thing.
  • May–December Romance: Morris is a mature man (George Clooney was about 50 when the film was made), but he had an affair with Molly, who is only 20.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Stephen gets what he wants in the end. Except that he drove his girlfriend to suicide and the candidate he sacrificed everything for is a lying hypocrite. While he has all the power and prestige he wants, he's accomplished nothing and sacrificed his self-respect.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Paul delivers an absolutely brutal one to Stephen.
  • Sleazy Politician: Morris is happy Stephen took care of the problem and doesn't really care how he did it.
  • 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 who is selfish and manipulative. Stephen by the end of the film has also lost his sheen and has been corrupted by politics.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Paul Zara calls Stephen out for being disloyal because he met Tom Duffy, a rival campaign manager.
  • 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.