In the Dark

Of Candidates and Clowns

The Ides of March
Produced by Smoke House
Directed by George Clooney
Written by Grant Heslov, George Clooney, and Beau Willimon
from Willimon’s play, Farragut North
Distributed by Columbia Pictures


George Clooney’s film The Ides of March is a behind-the-scenes look at a presidential primary race in contemporary Ohio.  The behavior of the candidates and their rabid retinues make American politics look as sporting as feeding time at the piranha pool.  These patriots comprise a congress of insatiable appetites circling the presidency, snapping at the promise of power, money, and indefatigable whoopee.

Clooney and his scenarist, Grant Hes­lov, worked with Beau Willimon to adapt his 2008 play Farragut North, a title borrowed from the Washington, D.C., subway station at which you’d disembark should you want to walk K Street’s lobbyist row.  Willimon got to know the street well while serving as an aide in Howard Dean’s ill-starred 2004 presidential campaign.  I haven’t seen the play, but if the film’s adaptation is as faithful as I’m informed, then Willimon seems to have come away from his time on the hustings bitterly convinced that our nation’s politics are inherently corrupt and corrupting.  This is hardly news, but it can’t be repeated too often.  There’s always...

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