REVIEW: George Clooney's Compelling 'The Ides of March' Bipartisan With Its Skewers

George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” covers the brutal front lines of the Presidential campaign trail. Based on the play “Farragut North” by Beau Willimon and stacked with a powerhouse cast, “The Ides of March” is a winning ticket.

Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is the press spokesman for the seemingly clean-as-a-whistle Governor Morris (Georges Clooney), a Democratic candidate in the presidential primary race. With the best of intentions, idealist Myers is sucked into the intense labyrinth of back-room politics: betrayal, corruption and revenge obscured by bright lights and stump speeches.

“The Ides of March” is an elaborate game of cat and mouse among Myers, Morris’ loyal-to-a-fault campaign manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a seductive intern (Evan Rachel Wood), the ethically confused political correspondent (Marisa Tomei), the slick rival campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) and the man on top, Governor Morris.

“The Ides of March” tears down all noble intentions in politics and unveils a sinister carousel beneath the carnival tent. Even though the film is told from the point of view of the Democratic party -- this is George Clooney, after all -- it is bipartisan with its skewers.

The film may not have the legs to take it all the way to the Oscars, but it does have some of the finest acting this year. Clooney gives a chilling performance as the presidential candidate, and in his third release this year, Ryan Gosling shows his diversity as we watch him slowly shred away his nobility and descend lower into the cynical pit of modern politics. If  “The Ides of March” does reach Oscar contention, expect Gosling to be on the short list.

Behind the scenes, Clooney provides taut direction. His screenplay, co-written by Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, while a little slow out of the gate, ramps up to an impressive and equally intense climax. And Alexandre Desplat’s score is a subtle death march.