Caroline Friday

Caroline Friday is a novelist and award winning screenwriter with several film projects in development for both television and theatrical distribution. She is also a 2008 Kairos Screenwriting Winner for spiritually uplifting screenplays, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation. Caroline currently serves as EVP of Sixth Day Media, LLC, a film finance and production company headquartered in the Atlanta area. She lives in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and three children and can be found at

At The Movies

The Ides of March

Ides Of MarchYears ago, I predicted that Ryan Gosling, a little-known actor starring in The Notebook, would be one of the hottest, most respected actors in Hollywood, and I was right. Now in 2012, he is considered A-list and has delivered a phenomenal, top-notch performance in The Ides of March, also starring George Clooney, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Paul Giamatti. Among a pool of great talent, one might think it would be easy to shine, especially with a compelling story and tightly written script, but Gosling’s performance takes the film to a higher level. His quirky facial expressions, crooked smile, less-than perfect looks (although hands-down handsome), halting stare, and long, purposeful pauses help enhance the tone of the movie—which is a dark, edge-of-your-seat political thriller in the vein of All the President’s Men.

I love political thrillers where naïve, idealistic campaign executives become hardened by the reality of bipartisan politics. Not because I believe all politicians are evil and corrupt or that the system is such, but because of the temptations political power and influence have over moral, well-intentioned people. As the film portrays, it is intoxicating and addictive, taking even the best of men and women down into the mire of scandal and disgrace.

This story starts with a high-flying campaign manager, Stephen Meyers (Gosling), who believes with all of his heart that the candidate he represents, Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), a liberal Democrat, is the perfect man for the job as president of the United States. When Morris’s primary poll numbers begin to exceed his opponent, Senator Pullman, the political game is on between campaign organizers to win the party nomination.

As behind-the-scene negotiations take place to secure a crucial win in Ohio, Meyers witnesses the governor take the high, moral road over dirty politics. And yet, Meyers is conflicted, because he is fully aware that without the governor playing the political process, Senator Pullman could pull ahead. After a contentious debate between the two candidates, where the governor makes an impressive showing, Pullman’s campaign chief, Tom Duffy (Giamatti), showers Meyers with compliments, catering to his ego, and even planting a seed that he should come work for the Senator. Paul Zara (Hoffman), who is the governor’s senior campaign manager, scoffs at Duffy, but Meyers is intrigued.

As one would expect, with any film about the ruthlessness of politics (plus Ryan Gosling as the lead), there will be romance, along with steamy passion. Enter gorgeous Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Molly Stearns, a lowly intern whose daddy is the head bigwig for the Democratic National Committee. She seduces Meyers, and they engage in a short-lived affair, but eventually he realizes she is greatly significant to the Morris campaign.


When Senator Pullman’s camp appears to have won the support of the Ohio senator, Duffy approaches Meyers again and asks him

to switch sides. Meyers informs Zara, who explodes with anger, rebuking Meyers for his lack of loyalty. When the press gets hold of the rumor, Meyers realizes he is going down. Zara fires him from the governor’s campaign, but Meyers promptly takes Duffy up on his offer to work for Pullman. Here is where the idealistic, naïve campaign worker discovers the truth about politics: Duffy never planned to hire Meyers in the first place—he just made the offer, knowing Meyers would tell Zara, who he knew would fire Meyers for disloyalty. As Duffy explains, if a campaign strategist as good as Meyers isn’t willing to work for Pullman’s team, then Duffy would make sure he didn’t work for anyone. How’s that for a chess move?

But as luck would have it, Meyers it sitting on a juicy piece of information that he surreptitiously learned from Molly. It seems that the happily married, morally impeccable Governor Morris isn’t all he presents himself to be. Molly is pregnant from a one-night-stand with the governor and needs money for an abortion. Since she can’t go to her staunchly Catholic father for help, Meyers uses campaign funds to pay for the deed. Any of this sound familiar?

Sadly, Meyers learns that Governor Morris, the man who held so much promise and hope to be a candidate beyond reproach—one who would eschew cruel politics and underhanded maneuvers to get ahead—is actually a snake in the grass, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. One would think Meyers’s dashed hopes would make him spurn politics forever and flee to another, more noble profession, especially after Molly commits suicide for fear of the press uncovering the scandal. But he doesn’t. He resorts to his own gangster-style chess move that gets Zara fired and him reinstated as the senior campaign manager for the Morris ticket. And while the movie ends there, one gets a strong suspicion that Meyers keeps his mouth shut about the entire fiasco, and Morris goes on to win the presidency.

As a Christian, I might initially want Meyers to spill his guts to the press and give them the juiciest story they’ve printed since Monica Lewinsky, so that a man like Morris never takes office. And yet would Senator Pullman have been any better? As the movie shows, he and his campaign people were equally lacking in character and integrity.

No, I am not such a cynic as the theme of the movie portrays—that all moral people must compromise their godly values to win elections. I do believe we will continue to have wonderful, godly men and women in office who display success and effectiveness without compromising their beliefs. But it will be only by holding fast to their faith and firm convictions that come from knowing Jesus Christ. As The Ides of March shows, even the most scrupulous, well-meaning “good person” isn’t able to survive a world of evil in his own strength.

I pray the Lord sends more of His children into the political arena to show the world there is a different, better way to run this nation. I pray some of those very believers receive their call when they watch this extremely powerful film.