When Good Candidates Go Bad

Article excerpt

Byline: John Avlon

George Clooney explores the seedy side of a presidential campaign.

This Election Season isn't going to be about hope and change. The time is right for a dark, cynical political thriller.

And on cue comes George Clooney's The Ides of March, starring Ryan Gosling as a young presidential campaign aide forced to confront an illusion-shattering scandal on the eve of a March primary fight in Ohio. It's a tight little morality tale that manages to be both timely and universal.

As he prepares for the movie's launch at the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31, Clooney framed his latest effort as actor, director, and screenwriter in almost classical terms: "The story is about ambition. At what price do we sell our souls?"

Clooney sets himself up as the antihero, Pennsylvania Gov. Mike Morris, a man who "was decorated by Bush Senior in the first Gulf War and then protested the second." He is flanked by a Hall of Fame cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti are dueling campaign managers; Jeffrey Wright is a calculating Southern senator angling for a spot on the ticket; and Marisa Tomei is pitch perfect as harried political reporter Ida Horowicz. …