We've always believed that politics is the best show in town. "The Ides of March," co-written by, directed by and starring George Clooney, is quite a show.
Clooney plays Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris, fighting for the Democratic presidential nomination in the Ohio primary against a tough opponent. The winner gets the party's nod and a good chance of becoming the next president.
Ryan Gosling plays Stephen Myers, his young, ambitious political consultant who believes in and admires his boss.
Clooney, like in real life, plays Morris as a positive, charismatic, left-of-center candidate. Listening to his speeches might inspire many centrists to swing their vote to him and away from the unseen Republican candidate.
Stephen starts out as an idealist, only to have his balloon busted by his co-workers, political enemies and the candidate himself.
Much of the problems center around a very young and pretty intern (Evan Rachel Wood), who has secretes that could stop the campaign cold.
Stephen makes one big mistake when he meets secretly with the opponent's jaded campaign manager (Paul Giamatti). His co-worker (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tells him that a mistake will cost him the right to play. And what a game is played among the politicos, as anything goes in the often-dirty world of politics.
Marisa Tomei is great as the reporter who "can be trusted,” while the truth is that nobody can be trusted, even the candidate. One mistake (or choice, as Hoffman's character puts it) sets off a number of knee-jerk reactions, changing the direction of the campaign strategy. The political waters get very muddied in the game of "Who do you trust?” The wheeling and dealing all may seem a bit familiar, especially to Rhode Islanders who are cynical about their politics and politicians.
"The Ides of March," a right-on title for conspiracy, lies and deception, will keep you guessing as to the outcome.
Clooney is a very convincing candidate, while the story spends more time with Gosling's character and his growing problems. The camera also spends more time with him. Like his performance in "Drive," he spends too much time brooding and staring into space, with the camera fixated on his every expression.
Rated R, with profanity and some sex and the "dirty" world of politics.