George Clooneys' political thriller, The Ides of March, is the latest film to zoom in on American society and politics. The film takes its name from a reference in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar to the Ides, or middle, of March and the sense of doom that accompanies it. The film is a sleek political drama with a different sense of doom and it's already generating Oscar buzz.
In The Ides of March, Stephen Meyers, played by Ryan Gosling, is the brilliant campaign manager of Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Morris. Governor Morris, played by George Clooney, is trying to win the Ohio primary. It's key to clinching the Democratic nomination for president.
Stephen Meyers believes in Morris. But as he tries to outline the governor's political agenda, the two clash. Morris is uncompromising, and Meyers fears the governor might lose.
Tom Duffy is the campaign manager for Morris's opponent. Duffy tries to undermine the governor by stealing Stephen Meyers. The meeting the two have destroys Meyers' credibility and gets him fired. But there's a twist. Meyers finds out the governor has a secret. With that knowledge, he blackmails Governor Morris to get rehired and forces him to make political compromises.
Through their unholy alliance, the ambitious campaign manager and the morally compromised politician make their way to the top.
The film touched a nerve with audiences in Washington DC, the country's political epicenter.
WOMAN1: "Not only did it reflect the political climate, but just our society as a whole. May people are about 'me, me, me' and will do anything to get ahead."
WOMAN2: "All the back door deals are always happening."
George Clooney also directed the film and co-wrote the script.
In addition to Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, Paul Giamatti plays Tom Duffy. Oscar winners Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei complete a stellar cast.
Clooney says although the film is fiction, it accurately depicts politics today.
"If this film somehow reflects the cynicism that we've seen in recent times, that's probably good," said Clooney. "It's not a bad thing to hold a mirror and look at some of the things that we're doing. Not a bad thing to look at how we elect our officials."
The Ides of March is the latest in a series of films that have reflected America's political psyche. One of the most iconic was Alan J. Pakula's "All The President's Men." It chronicled the unraveling of the Nixon administration in the early 1970s as two Washington Post reporters exposed the Watergate cover up.
The Ides of March focuses on a new menace: cutthroat politics, political amorality, and cynicism taken to new heights.