Andy Summers’s review published on Letterboxd:
FILM #78-DECEMBER CHALLENGE 2
George Clooney is a man of many talents.Actor, director, producer, and all round Hollywood superstar, his acting talents are well known as are his two production companies. One with Soderbergh that has now gone and Smokehouse Pictures which has successfully released the likes of "Argo" to critical acclaim. His directing skills have now been well honed and with "The Ides Of March" he once again weaves a complex web of political intrigue.
Featuring four of the finest actors working today in the shape of Ryan Gosling, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Clooney himself, this sheds a horrible light on the darker side of politics in the U.S. Fictional it may well be, but this has more truth in it than some would have you believe. The enigma of U.S. politics is a great arena for filmmakers. From JFK to Nixon and back again, it offers so much scandal that even these films that aren't based on real life politicians seem realistic and authentic.
Clooney's clean cut Democratic Senator is hoping to gain the nomination from his party to run for President. With clever campaign consultants Hoffman and true believer Gosling in his corner, he needs only a favorable outcome in Ohio to gain the necessary backing. Unfortunately our senator has been a naughty boy with an intern and is in danger of entering a shit-storm. With backbiting and ugly shenanigans ongoing behind the scenes, sides are taken and blame dispatched. It has political infighting and seedy blackmailing for political gain. It shows the way modern politics work. Clooney's character has more than one face here, like most politicians. Gosling's character however has few scruples in his quest to put Clooney's "Mike Morris" in the White House. Sad as it may be it's amazing how easily people's integrity goes out the window when faced with a potential scandal.
All four main protagonists have their faults. All four are flawed and although each has their own agenda it does leave a nasty taste in the mouth to see how things really work in the world of U.S politics. Gosling out-acts Clooney. Giamatti gives as good as he gets with both, but Hoffman again effortlessly takes the acting plaudits with a laid-back performance of sheer class. Clooney again stays in the background for the most part here and lets Gosling and Hoffman duke it out for the best lines. Not quite his best, but it's right up there.