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The Ides of March Movie Review

The film Ides of March, written and directed by George Clooney, takes its title from the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. While it is not a direct adaptation, George Clooney’s film stays true to the original, both thematically and in the portrayal of the main characters. In the original play, an idealistic and stoic Brutus betrays his friend Julius Caesar when an ambitious and jealous Cassius convinces Brutus that assassinating Caesar is best for the preservation of Rome. In Ides, Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is established as Brutus in his dedicated belief in Mike Morris (George Clooney) as the next President of the United States.

Paul Giamatti plays the perfect Cassius as Tom Duffy, the campaign manager of Morris’s rival in the Democratic primaries. If anyone can play smarmy, it’s Giamatti. I expected to see more of Giamatti but he certainly took advantage of his limited screentime. Clooney was perfect as Moore. At the beginning of the film, Moore is meant to be charming and the modern-day Cary Grant is a natural. When Moore turns out to be just another corrupt, lecherous politician, Clooney is surprisingly despicable. Gosling is the perfect balance of egoism and idealism to make Stephen Meyers a tragic hero. We despise him when he betrays Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) and we revel in the irony when his words of advice are fired right back at him when he is betrayed by his friend, Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

If you are a fan of the Shakespeare play, don’t get all disgruntled when the plot doesn’t follow the play. I mean, really, do you expect Clooney to get stabbed to death on Fox News? Et tu, Bill O’Reilly? Betrayal and corruption abound. While Meyers is the central Brutus character, several other characters commit Brutus-like betrayals. Ultimately, the tragic hero falls by becoming just as two-faced and corrupt as his adversaries and the credits roll before we see whether Meyers throws himself on his sword.

This is a thought-provoking film. I’d say it was satirical except that it isn’t much of an exaggeration of American politics. You don’t have to have read Julius Caesar to enjoy this film but if you have to have explosions, nudity, and severed limbs to be entertained, wait for Conan to come out on Bluray.

4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

I've been a comic nerd since Spider-man and his Amazing Friends and the Super Friends. So someone please explain to me, when did Aquaman become so cool? Also, why isn't She-Hulk in more media?

5 Comments

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  2. Josiah

    October 17, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    Although I do not know the Shakespeare play “Julius Caesar” very well, with the limited knowledge I have it is easy, even for me, to draw connections between the fabled show and the new George Clooney film “The Ides of March”. In my understanding the play follows the basic plot of Julius Caesar coming back from a victory, much as mike Morris at the beginning of the film has just one the democratic primary in the last state he visited. He has an utterly loyal friend, Marc Antony, who is akin to Morris’s campaign manager Paul. And of course the tragic character of Brutus is represented by Stephen Meyers, who throughout the film commits countless betrayals, some intended and some accidental. The character of Cassius is adapted into who was my favorite character in the whole movie, Tom Duffy played by Paul Giamatti. He has very little screen time, but in the time he has he clearly identifies himself as a villain who is willing to destroy a life of work to make sure his team wins the election.

    The main ideas behind both “Julius Caesar” and “The Ides of March” are clearly betrayal and corruption. The Brutus character who in this movie is named Stephen is the main perpetrator of these betrayals. He begins as a staunch supporter of Mike Morris, but is manipulated into betraying him the fist time when he meets with the Cassius character, Tom Duffy. Stephen also betrays his partner Paul by meeting with Duffy. After Stephen finds out Morris has had an affair with an intern he does his best to help the campaign and pays for the abortion. However when he himself is betrayed by both Paul and Morris he truly turns on them by running to Duffy and preparing to tell on the would-be presidential candidate. Also throughout the movie Stephen betrays the very intern Morris slept with by abandoning her at the abortion clinic.

    Morris, Paul, and Duffy, also all fit their characters perfectly. Morris, representing Caesar, plays the pretty faced politician who truly thinks he is the best thing for the nation. He does however have a bad side just as Caesar did. Morris is a major flirt who can’t keep his pants on and this leads to his confrontation with Stephen (Brutus). Paul, the character that represents Marc Antony, is the erstwhile companion and friend to Morris even though he can see his faults. He doesn’t care as much what happens to the nation as Stephen does, but he wants Morris to win as a person. He defends Morris’s actions and even leaves his job gracefully, all for the sake of his “friend”. Duffy, representing Cassius, plays the villain extraordinarily by being both sly and open at the same time, revealing his plan at the end and letting us see how he played Stephen (Brutus) from the very beginning. As I said at the beginning I am no expert on Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” but after a little helpful insight I was able to make colorations between the famous play and this new movie “The Ides of March”.

    • Caitlyn

      October 21, 2011 at 1:26 PM

      I agree, I also do not know the play very well however I do see how it is like the play. Just like the play there is a lot of coruption and bertrail between many of the characters. It is not very easy to tell who is who if you know the play and it dose not follow the play plot at all really but if is easy to tell how it is similar if you know the play at all or even have a little information on it.

  3. katie

    October 24, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    deception is clearly the main topic in this film, also in the play julius caesar. i agree whole heartedly with Jason on Giamatti playing the role of Tom Duffy. He did a fantastic job. i loved when Duffy told Ryan Goslings character to get out of politics. Giamatti delivered his lines perfectly.

  4. Dylan

    October 26, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    Well to start I am currently reading Julius Caesar so I might have a bit of a better insight. From what I have read George Clooney plays as Caesar beautifully from his modesty but still believing he is best for America or in Caesar’s case Rome. I also enjoy how they had in there that if Clooney had been more involved with the inner workings it all could have been avoided just like if Caesar had taken more notice to the many warnings he had received his death could have been avoided. Unlike Julius Caesar I believe Ryan Gosling the Brutus character was more naive then tricked. I mean he was defiantly deceived but he seemed more ignorant and just to put it more bluntly he was blind to the events unfolding. Then next on the list is Cassius. Paul Giamatti is an amazing actor and is still true for this movie I don’t know if it was necessary for such a good actor for the small role but I thought it was a good decision never the less. He plays the betrayer very well still sticking well to the friend/enemy his role requires. The final character I’m going to go over is the amazing role of Paul played by Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Mark Antony figure. I haven’t really gotten too much of him in Julius Caesar but I believed he Hoffman did a great job. Believing in the Caesar but still taking into consideration his own agenda. He also still plays to the serious yet comically relieving character.

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