If there’s one clear message in George Clooney’s The Ides of March, it’s this: You can lie, you can cheat, hell, you can be a terrible person—just don’t sleep with the intern. Adapted from Beau Willimon’s Broadway play Farragut North, the political thriller tells the story of Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling), the ambitious right-hand man of Governor Michael Morris (Clooney), as he tries to get Morris into the White House. Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), an intern wise beyond her years, manages to be the hairline crack in the glass that eventually shatters, ruining Morris’ shot at victory.
It’s a tale of hubris set in a world where integrity and loyalty should be everything but mean nothing against the forces of money and power. Reminiscent of such ’70s thrillers as The Parallax View, the film paints a dark portrait of contemporary politics with help from its outstanding supporting cast, which includes Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Gamatti, and Marisa Tomei. Scene after scene, the revelations fall like so many punches to the gut. With a directorial resume that includes critical successes like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck, Clooney might just have a career to fall back on in case the sexiest man alive thing doesn’t work out.