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★★★1/2

The Ides of March is an intelligent political drama featuring an ensemble cast that includes Ryan Gosling and George Clooney, who also writes and directs. It is well paced and cleverly scripted, even if its message is nothing new.

Clooney plays well-groomed Governor Mike Morris, a presidential hopeful who is closing in on the democratic nomination for the White House. Supporting him is his ‘brain trust’ Stephen (Ryan Gosling), the man behind the man. As Stephen gets involved in a compromising situation with intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood) and the political games of two party advisors (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti), his idealism is tested and his innocence is lost amid Machiavellian struggles for power.

Ides of March is well written and smartly directed. Its sharp dialogue recalls TV show The West Wing, while frequently plot twists, fast pacing and convincing acting result in a gripping tale. Despite this the moral of the story, encompassed in the title, is nothing new – politics aspires to noble ideals but too often descends into low skulduggery, with the triumph of personal ambition.

That politics can be immoral will come as no surprise, and may make Ides of March slightly forgettable, particularly as the politics of the film have little impact compared to graver contemporary political problems. Despite this, Clooney’s latest feature is enjoyable and engaging entertainment, with an excellent performance from Gosling as its lead.

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