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George Clooney in 'The Ides of March': movie review

George Clooney's political thriller ‘The Ides of march’ is a shrewd, somewhat cynical look at modern-day politics.

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From left, George Clooney, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Ehle, and Talia Akiva, are shown in a scene from 'Ides of March.'

Saeed Adyani/Columbia Pictures - Sony/AP

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"The Ides of March," directed by and costarring George Clooney as a Democratic presidential hopeful, has an earthshaking revelation for us. I'd say, "Hold the presses!" but are there any presses anymore? Anyway, the revelation is this: Politics is a dirty, cynical, backbiting business.

You heard me right. Politicians lie; they cheat on their constituencies, on their spouses, on their honor. The only thing authentic about them is their inauthenticity.

I make a point of trumpeting these revelations only because "The Ides of March" makes such a point of it. The film is actually fairly entertaining once you get past its overweening desire to be the bearer of bad tidings. A more adventuresome movie would have treated the down-and-dirty world of politics as its starting, not its ending, point. An even more daring movie would have attempted to show that idealism in politics is not all smarm in disguise.

Clooney, who also co-wrote the film, began preproduction on it more than three years ago, but in the wake of President Obama's election, with political idealism riding high in the country, he put the project on hold. Now that cynicism and divisiveness are back in the saddle, what better time to re-up a movie that takes its title from an allusion to that back-stabbing and front-stabbing political classic "Julius Caesar"?

Clooney's Gov. Mike Morris – an inveterate liberal who stands up for gay marriage, decries America's oil dependency, and declares his only religion is the US Constitution – is running neck and neck with a more conservative senator in the run-up to the Ohio primary. Stephen Myers, sharply played by Ryan Gosling with ardent eyes and clipped tones, is Morris's press secretary and the closest thing in the movie to a true believer. It's his story (Morris is a secondary player) and his downfall, or shortfall, is a direct result of his transient belief in a higher calling.

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