The Ides of March

The Ides of March ★★★★

A smart political thriller, Ides of March provides a detailed, realistic view into the workings of a political primary and keeps it riveting without resorting to cheap plot contrivances.

George Clooney plays a dream political candidate (the kind of which you only seem to get in movies), and Gosling is his idealistic yet not naive assistant chief-of-staff. Two seemingly unrelated yet ultimately connected plot points begin to unfold, and lead to juicy moral choices that have ramifications for all four main characters in the story (Gosling, Cloney, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Evan Rachel Wood).

Acting is superb across the board. Gosling is a strong lead: dedicated to the campaign and to Clooney's character, but slowly realizing the choices he has to make between a moral high ground and winning. I'm not normally a huge fan of Seymour Hoffman but he's great here as Clooney's experienced chief-of-staff, and Clooney himself puts in a great turn as the lead politician: idealistic yet perhaps not squeaky clean. All the characters have great arcs, and they get to where they get as a matter of the choices they make and the events that unfold. No unrealistic decisions or unexplained changes-of-hearts, everything is satisfying in its progression.

I love movies where you really get into the nuts-and-bolts of a profession or scenario, beyond the typical surface ideas you've seen a million times before. Ides of March does this both with the intricacies of political campaign tactics, and in an associated scandal. It delivers both a smart story with great performances, and is definitely worth checking out.

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