Although some of its key plot twists are a bit simplistic and exaggerated, the Ides of March is an incisive political thriller with yet another fantastic performance from Ryan Gosling, in what has turned out to be his breakout year that elevates him to the top rank of actors.
Playing an ambitious but virtuous political consultant to the next wannabe JFK (George Clooney), Gosling gets involved with a wide-eyed intern (Evan Rachel Wood) and flirts with defecting to the enemy camp, led by Paul Giamatti. Gosling's own boss, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, has an agenda of his own, and the affairs and backroom dealings lead to a cutthroat political endgame that's engrossing to watch unfold.
Although the script has ambitions of hard edges, it seems to be alarmingly naive. There's more nuance in political thrillers as antiquated as the original All the King's Men. The Ides of March could have easily been made in the 30s, but its dated pretenses pack some altruistic charm.