Stephen (Gosling) is a charismatic, young politician working as a junior campaign manager for Governor Morris (Clooney). Morris’ team, headed by his campaign manager Paul (Hoffman), work around the clock to clinch the vote in Ohio against a rival democratic senator. If won, this would pretty much guarantee Morris a nomination as the democratic presidential candidate and a large possibility of top White House jobs for both Paul and Stephen.

While The Ides of March may be actor/director/screenwriter/producer George Clooney’s passion project, but acting-wise this is Gosling’s film and he’s phenomenal. His character starts out as an idealistic believer in the power of clean politics, whose core is rocked when he discovers that everyone he’s surrounded by is corrupt in one way or the other. Completely shaken, he finds himself morphing into one of the pack, playing dirty with the best of them.

The film is pretty engaging despite the amount of dialogue and the stodgy subject matter. For the most part, the plot is pretty straightforward, though there are some details that may fly over the heads of the less politically inclined. However, Stephen’s transformation should be more than enough to keep everyone interested, in addition to the small romantic arc between him and Molly (Wood). The Gosling/Wood pairing is electric. They crackle on screen together, play off of each other perfectly and are a joy to watch. Wood does a great job, despite being given an underwritten and inconsistent character, turning her character into the most human of all the politicians and her scenes with Gosling the most memorable of the entire film.

For a film that’s very specifically about American politics and that doesn’t tone down the political lingo, it’s surprising how entertaining it is even for those that may find politics boring. The editing and pacing lend the endless phone calls and meetings a sense of urgency that conveys how all consuming these things are in real life. They also keep the film zippy and prevent it from sagging under the weight of all the suits and ties. And while Stephen is probably the only truly fleshed out character, the cast is populated with some excellent actors that make their characters interesting.