The Ides of March

Rated 4.0

The press secretary (Ryan Gosling) for a presidential candidate (George Clooney, who also directed) gets a job offer from the campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) of his man’s top rival; is it genuine, or a subtle effort at sabotage? The script (by Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, from Willimon’s play) is driven by contrivance more than character—the young hero’s actions look more naive on reflection than you’d expect from a savvy campaigner—but the general theme of the drive for power for its own sake rings true. Clooney’s direction is smooth (albeit a trifle narcissistic, lavishing adoring closeups on himself), and the dynamite cast (Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gosling’s mentor, Marisa Tomei as a crafty reporter, Evan Rachel Wood as an intern-cum-groupie) smoothes the clichés off the characters.