We’re in a dramatic time for politics as we approach our next presidential election and if you know anything about George Clooney, you know he’s pretty political. I don’t get that he shows a lot of bias one way or another, but, he does make his opinion known. The Ides of March is George Clooney’s way of illuminating some of the *things* that happen during a political campaign. And likely his way of getting us primed for the upcoming republican nomination process once it kicks into high gear. This story could happen…

George Clooney plays the governor of a state who’s decided to run for president and is seeking his party’s nomination. Ryan Gosling plays his deputy campaign manager and Philip Seymour Hoffman plays his campaign manager. We experience the story as it unfolds in the state of Ohio on the campaign trail. Other critical characters are Paul Giamatti as the opposition’s campaign manager, Marisa Tomei as a journalist following the campaign and Evan Rachel Wood as a junior staffer to Gosling and Hoffman’s characters. We know where that’s going…

The first item of note is Clooney’s use of the State of Ohio. Ohio is always one of the most critical states in an election, if not the MOST critical state. Next, Clooney is sure to include all of the other critical elements of a political campaign; A personal scandal, a break in loyalty, another politician negotiating for his position in the administration upon a win and a struggle for power within the campaign. Clooney covers it all with precision.

If you know anything about politics, you know this story has frightening possibility. This is exactly what one can expect from a political campaign. And as this story reveals itself, while I know how campaigns work, I loved seeing exactly how Clooney decided to stack the details. It’s always the same set of details, it’s just a matter of how they fit together.

It almost feels like a documentary. The realism is stark. The backdrop in southern Ohio is perfect as well and the ending is gripping. I can’t say any of the characters make me think they’re someone else, but, I also don’t see them as themselves. No matter, they all deliver strong performances.

Oscar buzz is about – I’m gonna sign-on to best picture, best actor for Gosling and possibly best supporting actor for Hoffman. Clooney isn’t in the picture enough for a nomination, but, since it’s his movie, he can take credit for best picture. Gosling’s performance is the standout though. He has to make some tough decisions and handles it in a way that only a true political operative can. That’s what defines the quality of this performance.

I went into this film thinking it might be just another political drama, but, walked out pleased by Clooney’s choices for a twist. As we watch the next nomination campaign unfold, at least we’ll know what’s really going on… This is a see it for sure.