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The Ides of March 

★★★★

Starring Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright. Written by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon. Based on the play "Farragut North" by Beau Willimon. Directed by George Clooney. Rated R.

Need another disillusioning reminder about what a dirty game politics is? Well look no further, my friend. The Ides of March may not be a documentary about shady political dealings, but rest assured that the reality behind campaign trail shenanigans is often far, far filthier than the goings on here.

In The Ides of March, Ryan Gosling (who's having an amazing year) is Stephen, an idealistic press secretary working the presidential primary campaign of Democratic hopeful, Governor Mike Morris (Clooney). Morris, running what can only be called an honest and morally driven campaign, is currently battling for the backing of Ohio, where Tom Duffy (Giamatti) is heading the campaign for Morris' Democratic rival. And aside from a little bit of bedroom romp-time with Molly the intern (Wood), press secretary Stephen is eating, breathing and sleeping this campaign. But an unseen and unexpected wrench is about to throw all of his gears drastically out of sync.

It's a beautiful thing when a film gives its audience some credit. The story told here is in no way overly complex, but the fact that it never feels the need to hold its viewers by the hand and pull them along is rare and always refreshing. With his fourth directorial effort, Clooney shows an almost laser-like focus on a tight, concentrated and intriguing story. (And he also looks damned presidential the whole time ... 2016??) Even if this film did not spin a captivating yarn, which it does, the all-star cast would be reason enough to warrant a viewing. If The Ides of March were in a language that you didn't speak, and it wasn't even subtitled, it would still be worth watching for the performances of Gosling, Hoffman, Clooney and Giamatti. They are just that good. — Kirk Vanderbeek

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