fatpie42’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ryan Gosling's character is hardcore fan of Clooney's politician character and is working hard the Cloonster's spin doctor, not because its his job, but because he believes in the man.
However, things start to go wrong for him when Paul Giamatti, the campaign leader for the opposition, asks him to have a private meeting. Apparently an ordinary spin doctor even agreeing to a secret meeting with the head campaigner for the opposition is a really scandalous thing. During this meeting Giamatti claims that the opposition have the whole race in the bag and that a senator Clooney hopes to receive an endorsement from is somehow in their pocket. Giamatti finishes by offering Gosling the option of switching sides. Gosling rejects the whole suggestion and views the whole thing as a trick.
Eventually Gosling reveals that he had the meeting, but not until after Seymour Hoffman has already let slip the game plan to the dodgy senator. All that shouting at Gosling in the trailer? It's all because he had one meeting with the opposition where he told them where they could stick it and didn't reveal possible lies about a senator until it was too late. That's it.
It seems pretty clear to me that the while the movie clearly wants us to think Ryan Gosling's character is a morally questionable figure, I can't really work out why. In interviews where they explained how the political system is somewhat rigged and the successful candidates are chosen by money, I thought they might have a rather more interesting story to tell. In the end, it felt like a rather unrealistic scenario littered with well-worn cliches. An atheist candidate? No way! Sleeping with interns? That old trope??? Whatever... Heck, if they focussed the film on Clooney and made us care about HIM I might have cared. But trying to make out Gosling as the bad guy for having a secret meeting? I couldn't understand why I was supposed to care, nor why anyone else would care.
I'm pretty sure there's some really interesting drama involved in politics, but I wasn't feeling it here. Try "In The Loop" instead. The scandals feel far more realistic in that despite its being an over-the-top comedy.
My full review is here: