The Ides of March is a 2011 American political drama thriller film directed by George Clooney from a screenplay written by Clooney, along with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon. The film is an adaptation of Willimon's 2008 play Farragut North. It stars Ryan Gosling, Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood.
The Ides of March was featured as the opening film at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and at the 27th Haifa International Film Festival and was shown at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. It received a wide theatrical release on October 7, 2011.
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is the Junior Campaign Manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney), Governor of Pennsylvania and a Democratic presidential candidate, competing against Arkansas Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell). The candidates are campaigning in Ohio. A win for Morris would all but guarantee him the nomination; a win for Pullman would give him vital momentum. Both campaigns are also attempting to enlist the endorsement of Senator Thompson (Jeffrey Wright).
After a debate, Meyers is asked for a secret meeting by Pullman's Campaign Manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti). Meyers calls his boss, Senior Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who doesn't answer. Meyers leaves a message that something important has come up. Meyers meets with Duffy who offers him a position in Senator Pullman's campaign. Meyers refuses, and asserts that he believes in Morris. Duffy tells Meyers that his optimism won't last, and that Morris will eventually be cynical and corrupt like the other candidates. Zara calls Meyers back and asks what was important but Meyers says it was nothing to worry about.
Meyers starts a sexual relationship with Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), an intern for Morris' campaign and daughter of Jack Stearns (Gregory Itzin), the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Late one night, Meyers discovers that Morris is trying to call Molly. She and Morris had a brief sexual liaison, at a campaign stop in Iowa several weeks previously, and Molly is pregnant with Morris' baby. Meyers helps her with money for an abortion and drives her to the clinic.
Meyers admits to Zara that he met with Duffy, who told Meyers that Pullman will offer Senator Thompson the position of Secretary of State, guaranteeing his victory by bringing hundreds of delegates with him. Ida (Marisa Tomei), a reporter for the New York Times, reveals that an anonymous source leaked his encounter with Duffy to her and that she will publish unless Meyers gives her all of the information about his meeting with Thompson. Meyers comes to Zara for help. Zara reveals that he leaked the meeting to Ida and fires Meyers from the campaign for showing a "lack of loyalty" in meeting with Duffy.
Meyers offers his services to Duffy but Duffy doesn't want to hire Meyers. In a Machiavellian scheme, Duffy admits he met with Meyers in order to induce Meyers to tell Zara about the meeting. Duffy correctly predicted that this would lead Zara (in his paranoia) to remove Meyers from Morris' campaign, thus weakening Morris. Meanwhile, Molly learns that Meyers has been fired and, fearing that her secret will now be exposed once he leaves, commits apparent suicide by overdosing on pills. Meyers feels guilty about this, as he did intend to expose Morris' affair with Molly in exchange for a job on Senator Pullman's campaign.
Meyers later confronts Morris and tells him that he will expose the affair with Molly if Morris does not replace Zara with himself, as well as offer Senator Thompson a place on the ticket, guaranteeing Thompson's support. Morris relents when Meyers claims he has a suicide note which he says he stole from Molly's room. Later at Molly's funeral, Zara compliments Meyers on using his own secrets to his advantage. Having accepted Thompson's endorsement and his delegates, thereby giving him enough delegates to gain the nomination, Morris becomes the nominee, despite losing the Ohio primary to Pullman.
Now Senior Campaign Manager, Meyers attends a press conference organized by Ida. He realizes that Duffy was right, and he has betrayed everything he believed in for success and revenge. The movie ends as he takes his seat for a television interview.
Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, the mastermind behind Morris' campaign.
George Clooney as Mike Morris, Governor of Pennsylvania and a Democratic presidential candidate.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Paul Zara, Morris' campaign manager and Myers' superior and mentor.
Paul Giamatti as Tom Duffy, a rival campaign manager.
Evan Rachel Wood as Molly Stearns, an intern for Morris' campaign.
Marisa Tomei as Ida Horowicz, a reporter for the New York Times.
Jeffrey Wright as Senator Thompson, a senator from North Carolina.
Max Minghella as Ben Harpen, a member of Morris' campaign staff.
Jennifer Ehle as Cindy Morris, wife to Governor Mike Morris.
Gregory Itzin as Jack Stearns, father of Molly Stearns and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Michael Mantell as Senator Pullman, Morris' opponent in the Democratic primaries.
In October 2010, Variety reported that Clooney signed on to produce, direct, and star in the film adaptation of Beau Willimon's Broadway play Farragut North. Exclusive Media Group, Cross Creek Pictures, Smoke House Pictures, and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions financed the film. Filming in Cincinnati, Ohio began in February 2011 in Downtown Cincinnati at Fountain Square, Over-the-Rhine historic district, Northside, Mount Lookout, Xavier University, other neighborhoods and at Miami University's Farmer School of Business. Principal photography also took place in Downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. On March 14, filming began at the University of Michigan and included 1,000 extras.
The theatrical release failed to recognize Cincinnati in the credits as a filming location. Producer and screenplay co-writer, Grant Heslov said, “The omission of Cincinnati in the credits was an inadvertent mistake, something that slipped through the cracks, unfortunately.” Heslov also stated that the credits would be corrected for the home release of the film.
The Ides of March premiered on August 31, 2011 as the opening film of the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Sony Pictures Entertainment bought the distribution rights for the United States and Canada. Sony wanted Clooney to keep the play's title, but The Ides of March was finalized. The Ides of March was originally planned to have a limited release in December 2011 and a wide release in January 2012. However, Sony eventually moved the film's opening date to October 14, 2011. This was later moved again, to October 7, 2011.
The film received positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 85% of 185 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.3 out of 10. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 67 based on 43 reviews. CinemaScore polls reported that the average grade moviegoers gave the film was a "B" on an A+ to F scale.
According to A. O. Scott, the film is "in large part the tale of a professional politico's loss of innocence. Not Morris's, but that of Stephen Meyers, a young hotshot on the governor’s campaign staff who is played, with sad-eyed intensity, by Ryan Gosling." But "it is difficult, really, to connect this fable to the world it pretends to represent. Whatever happens in 2012, within either party or in the contest between them, it seems fair to say that quite a lot will be at stake. That is not the case in The Ides of March, which is less an allegory of the American political process than a busy, foggy, mildly entertaining antidote to it."
On September 9, 2011, the film won the Brian Prize at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Stephen Mirrione won the Hollywood Editor Award for his work on The Ides of March at the Hollywood Movie Awards.
Politics in fiction
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