BY AIMEE BEDOY
I have to warn you, if you intend to read on, I will spoil an important part of the story's plot. So if you intend to see the movie and want it to be a surprise, please take note and don't read this piece!
George Clooney's film The Ides of March was produced as a piece of commentary on politics. And while Hollywood's politics again were placed very blatantly on display, something very shocking happened in the movie that perhaps Hollywood did not quite intend to be so damning of the typical pro-choice rhetoric.
The film itself is a critique of politics in this country, and it posits that perhaps even the most charismatic and seemingly moral people can play dirty and get in over their heads. This concept was one worth noting, though I am not here to talk the philosophy or morals of politics.
The plot is driven by the both seductive and wholly seduced Molly Stearns, a 20-year-old intern of the gregarious Democratic presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris. In a discussion with Stephen Meyer, a 30-year-old head staffer on Morris's campaign, Molly reveals that she and Morris had a one-time affair and that she is pregnant with his child. Meyer makes it abundantly clear at this point that there is no other choice for Molly -- she must get an abortion to save face for Morris and his campaign. Molly, a naive and wide-eyed student, believes so strongly in what Morris stands for that she reluctantly agrees, stating that she cannot go to her father, because "we are Catholic."
This is where my scrutiny of the film grew: at no time was Molly asked what she thought, nor was she even remotely allowed to make her opinion or beliefs known. It was assumed that she would kill her unborn child for the good of Morris's political campaign, that the life of the child would mean nothing but trouble for an irresponsible Morris and the too-young Molly Stearns. The only point in which the morality of abortion was discussed was during a debate, in which Morris summarily spouted pro-choice rhetoric, something to the effect that "a woman should have the right to make that choice." And yet, when he and his campaign were faced with the life of a pre-born child that would jeopardize his future prospects in the election campaign, the woman was faced with a situation in which she was given no choice.
Molly Stearns, after being left abandoned at the abortion clinic, takes a taxi back to her hotel in a miserable state. What exactly her thought process was I cannot be sure, but depression sinks in and later she is found dead in her apartment by the coercive and cold Stephen Meyer. Meyer listens to a voicemail left by Molly hours before in which she apologizes and basically states that they won't have to worry about her anymore. Because she killed herself, there will be little in the way of evidence of Morris's affair. Whether the pain of her abortion or the misguided affection and adoration for a dirty politician or some combination of both drove her to suicide, it is evidence of yet another case of the disregard for human dignity. When Molly was feeling most alone and abandoned, she had no one to turn to -- perhaps I can posit that it was then that she realized what she had done to her child, and realized that the men whom she cared for cared nothing for her child's life -- and perhaps even then, they might not truly care about her opinion or her life, either. At her funeral, Molly's father makes the pithy statement, "It is one of the hardest things a parent could do, to have to bury your child." I think that goes for both Molly and her own family.
The movie represented two things to me as a conscientious viewer: first, the dichotomy between the right to life and the perceived right to a convenient lifestyle, and secondly, the prevalence of "the unchoice." It was entirely convenient for Morris and his staff that Molly procure an abortion and hide his actions, and it was all too convenient that Molly then kill herself and bury the evidence of his affair with her. The compassion shown by the characters in the film borders on cold apathy towards such an optimistic girl. Morris and Meyer seem too focused on the campaign trail to bother with the blatant loss of life which can only be attributed to their preoccupation with political success. Furthermore, the concept of "the unchoice" rears its ugly head in this movie, in which Molly was nearly forced to kill her pre-born child. Such coercion and fear are often used in real-life situations in which women are given no real choice concerning abortion, but rather, often the men in their life are so adamant that they must kill their child to save face, to retain a way of life, or to prevent negative repercussions in their own lives.
As a whole, I found The Ides of March to be an interesting film worth watching once, even if only because it caused me to step back and think. It provoked discussion between myself and my friends, and it was a good way to start a discourse about respect for human life and dignity. As a whole, it was an interesting commentary on politics in this country, but an even better commentary sat beneath the true plot that I don't think the producer or the screenwriter ever intended.