Last night I saw IDES OF MARCH, the new movie of political machinations during a primary campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. George Clooney is the candidate, Philip Seymour Hoffman his campaign manager, and Ryan Gosling is Hoffman's gifted subordinate. Gosling begins as an idealist and -- because that's the way these films go -- loses his idealism by the end. Nobody else had any to begin with.
And therein lies the problem. IDES OF MARCH is absorbing throughout; the actors are all very good; there are some arresting visuals. However, everybody here is willing to sell out everybody else, friend or foe, not merely for the good of the campaign but to improve their own position in the campaign hierarchy. No trick is too dirty, no betrayal too profound, no friend more important than one's own importance. It gets to be Too Much.
Yes, I believe that politics can be a nasty business. The good-hearted crew on TV show WEST WING, which I adored, is probably too good to be true. But a film can also be too nasty to be true, in that it presents a lop-sided picture of reality. I enjoyed IDES OF MARCH (gazing at George Clooney's eyelashes alone is worth the ticket price), but I ended up not believing it. See it and decide for yourself.