A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Stephen Meyers is a young idealist who's brilliant at communications, is second in command of Governor Mike Morris's presidential campaign, and is a true believer. In the middle of the Ohio primary, the campaign manager of Morris's opponent asks Meyers to meet; he offers him a job. At the same time, Morris's negotiations for the endorsement of the man in third place, a North Carolina Senator, hit a snag. A young campaign intern, Molly Stearns, gets Stephen's romantic attention. Republicans have a trick up their sleeve; Stephen may be too trusting, and Molly has a secret. What's most important, career, victory, or virtue? Written by
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) says about a slur on his opponent, "I don't care if it's true. I just want to hear him denying it." This is a reference to a statement attributed to Lyndon B. Johnson, who allegedly referred to an opponent as having carnal knowledge of farm animals. When an aide said he couldn't say that because it wasn't true, Johnson replied, "I know but I just want to hear him deny it." See more »
Ryan Gosling's character mistakenly refers to the two lecterns on the stage as podiums when he asks: "Are we going to put risers under these podiums?" A podium is a platform on which the speaker and lectern stand. A lectern is not a podium. See more »
I'm not a Christian. I'm not an Atheist. I'm not Jewish. I'm not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in is called the Constitution of United States of America.
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Greetings again from the darkness. Political thrillers can be so juicy and filled with "gotcha" moments and "oh how could he/she" scenes. Inevitably, most come down to an "I believed in you" showdown and reckoning. This latest one based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon, gives George Clooney an opportunity to play out his political aspirations without opening himself to the real thing.
Clooney also directs and the smartest move he made was assembling an ensemble cast of some of the best actors working today. Clooney plays Pennsylvania Governor Mike Morris, who is one of two still-standing Democratic Presidential contenders on the verge of the Ohio primary. His Campaign Manager is grizzled campaign veteran Paul, played with staunch principals and black and white rule book by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Their talented and idealistic Press Secretary Stephen is played by Ryan Gosling. Their opponent's manager Tom Duffy is played by Paul Giamatti. Duffy oozes cynicism and seems to have lost the rule book that Paul holds so dearly.
The film begins with the set-up so we get a feel for just how strong or weak of character each of these men are. Morris (Clooney) is obviously an Obama-type idealist who claims his religion is the US Consitution. He says this while gently poking fun at his opponent's Christian beliefs. We see just how talented Stephen (Gosling) character is at handling the words that Clooney speaks and we see Paul (PSH) in full back room politico maneuvering.
The film has two huge points where the mood swings. The first is a contrived, definite no-no meeting between the ambitious Stephen and the shrewd Duffy. The second is a sequence between Stephen and a 20 year old campaign intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), who also happens to be the daughter of the Chairman of the DNC. These two events turn the film from political thriller to melodramatic Hollywood fare. That doesn't make it less of a movie, it's just different than it began.
Cat and mouse games ensue and we see just who is the master manipulator amongst a group of professionals. This is one of those films where the individual pieces are actually more interesting than the whole pie. There are two really excellent exchanges between Gosling and Hoffman. Ms. Wood steals her scenes with ease. Jeffrey Wright nails his brief time as a desperate Senator negotiating the best deal possible. Giamatti's last scene with Gosling is a work of art. The only thing missing is a confrontation between Giamatti and Hoffman. THAT alone would be worth the price of admission.
You might be surprised that Clooney actually minimizes the political meanderings, though he does get in a few jabs at the Republicans. This is more character drama ... how far can your ideals and morals carry you. What is your breaking point? Where is the line between realist and idealist? Is it betrayal if you act for the right reason? The final shot of film is superb. Et tu, Brute.
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