The Ides of March (4 out of 5 stars)
Directed by: George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck)
Written by: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and George Clooney
In the fast paced world of politics the idealistic media consultant Steven Myers has thee candidate he believes should be the President competing in the Democratic Primary, Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). The film centers around Myers idealism and belief in the political system. At the beginning of the film Myer's character helps craft a a response for his candidate which is aimed to state that the candidate has no religious connections, but Governor Morris believes in the Constitution.
At the center of this film is more than the search for the candidacy of the Democratic Presidential nomination. The movie is about how power and corruption within the the campaign headquarters. Steven is "friends" with Paul Morris (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) the campaign manager for Morris. The film centers around both Democratic candidates trying to win one of the swing states in the primary, Ohio. Paul tells a reporter for the Times Ida (Marisa Tomei) that Morris is a lock to take Ohio because they have a meeting with one of the top powerful Democrats in Ohio.
The power dynamic is centered around Steven because of his youthful optimism he cares about the candidate, politics, and the future of his country. Meanwhile as Steven is seen becoming too powerful for Morris, Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) the campaign manager for Morris's opponent goes after him hoping he will join their team instead. As the film continues scandal and intrigue keep this film on a fast paced track leading you to an end that explores how politics can bring everyone to the edge and wipe away the optimism.
Gosling does a great job in this film as he goes from this bright eyed optimist to a man struggling with the corruption and power that exist within the political arena. Like within other films Gosling's can play the leading man so well, he has charm (wooing Evan Rachel Wood's character). The supporting cast filled with the candidate himself George Clooney who directed, wrote, and starred in this film is also impressive. Clooney took this character to a level beyond boredom and gave him more depth and intrigue. Giamatti plays his role with ease. While Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays this mentor who knows the game, but still fights the paranoia of the game he has to play day in and day out.
I think the strongest part of this film beyond the acting is the writing. The film is based on Beau Willimon's play "Farragut North" which chronicles his own work on political campaigns. Heslov, Willimon, and Clooney work well to create the backdrop of the inner workings of a campaign and the struggle the staff has to fight for their candidate and to keep their jobs. Politics is a dirty game, and the Ides of March uses the language of Caesar to show it!