Rare in our present cinema landscape is the smart drama for adults. A film purposely devoid of fetishistic gunplay, seat-rumbling explosions, or this week’s sexy partially naked fleshtaffy, is typically one that’s been made on a micro-budget by an indie auteur. Great gobs of such efforts of varying quality shuffle patiently in your instant queue. Here, this slouching beast, is a “star-studded” adaptation of a play that uses the inherent charisma of its A-listers to tell a tale of politics as a visit to the zoo. Come, you, and look inside the terrarium. Watch the reptiles climb atop each other’s backs and bite one another’s shoulders so to begin a frenzied bout of worrying. It’s an endless Ouroboros playing out like the virgin’s first blush-red spread but as age-tested as the come one, come all madam. That foul miasma that assails your nostrils is brought to sharp relief as the tragedy unfolds. What may seem, upon initial viewing, as arch and cynical, is ultimately just realism. The Ides of March and its cast tell the tale sulfurously and with a compelling sense of forward-driving momentum. No back is left without a bleeding knife. The viewer leaves mirroring the blank expression of the empty human vessel that leads them into the movie’s credits and back home to their lives as extras in the political play of today and every day.
The Ides of March opens at the Ritz Five and other Philly-area theaters today.