How far would you be willing to go for something you truly believe in? Would you sacrifice your own morals and integrity for the greater good? This is the question that nearly every principle character is faced with in The Ides of March, the latest directorial effort from George Clooney.
Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) is locked in a dead heat with Senator Pullman for the Democratic party nomination, and the Ohio primary will be the deciding factor on who gets the endorsement. With the crackshot team of press secretary Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) and campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the governor is convinced that he has the race well in hand, but things are happening behind the scenes that threaten to destroy his chances of stepping into the Oval Office.
While Zara contends with a powerful senator (Jeffrey Wright) who is more than happy to back Governor Morris and ensure his victory – for a hefty price – Myers finds himself desperately trying to juggle the secrets of a gorgeous young intern (Evan Rachel Wood), the blackmail attempts of a hard-nosed political reporter (Marisa Tomei) looking for her latest scoop, and the devious machinations of a rival campaign manager (Paul Giamatti). Despite his charming smile and cool demeanor, Myers quickly discovers that he is well beyond his depth in this ruthless political world, where bribery, deception, and manipulation are not only commonplace, but absolutely necessary.
Every character in this film is more than what they seem, and every member of the stellar ensemble cast brings nuance and subtext to their roles, treating the audience to some of the greatest dialogue-driven showdowns in recent memory. Gosling more than holds his own against a far more experienced cast, and his scenes with Clooney and Hoffman are the seeds from which awards campaigns are born. And while he does some great work as Governor Morris, Clooney once again proves that he is just as effective behind the camera.
The Ides of March is an intense, smartly-written and brilliantly-acted political thriller that is less about politics and more about the dark, dirty truth of humanity, that anyone and anything can be purchased for the right price. Much like the characters in the film, the audience has no idea who to trust, and they will question where their allegiance lies long after the credits begin to roll.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10