As a writer-director, George Clooney pushes all the hot buttons. In Good Night, and Good Luck it was the media; in The Ides of March it’s politics. Clooney plays Mike Morris, an Obama-like governor running for the Democratic party nomination. Ryan Gosling is Stephen Myers, an idealistic press secretary who thinks Mike is the chosen one. But the deeper he gets into the campaign — which is being battled over Ohio votes — the more dirt he finds. Clooney doesn’t hold back his disdain for the political circus here. Everyone involved (including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti) hits below the belt, and nobody comes up clean in the end. Politics is an unsexy subject for a movie, but with Clooney and Gosling as leads, The Ides of March manages some sparks. But it’s talky and a bit melodramatic, and just like a real political arena, the same issues are hammered out over and over again. Still, after a summer of soggy superheroes and big action letdowns, a smart, savvy movie like this is just the thing to get your brain working again.
Writ. and dir. George Clooney; writ. Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon; feat. Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman (R)
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