If there is one city Hollywood adores more than New York to mine for dramatic intrigue, it’s Washington, D.C. So, with the 2012 Presidential election just around the corner, it isn’t surprising a political thriller with allegories to today’s political climate in heading to theaters. Case in point? George Clooney’s return to the director’s chair, the politically charged adaptation of Beau Willimon’s play “Farragut North,” “The Ides of March.”
“March” will open the Venice Film Festival at the end of the month and will also screen at Toronto in September. It’s already a prime contender for awards season consideration not just because of Clooney’s involvement, but an ensemble that includes Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei and Jeffrey Wright. On paper, it’s a total Oscar bait film except Clooney doesn’t really make Oscar bait films (they just end up thrown into that pool). In fact, Clooney has a potential awards season player with his performance in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” this December. Unless it’s an “Ocean’s Eleven” film, it’s hard for the former winner to escape the Academy’s love or attention.
As the new trailer for “Ides” reveals, Gosling plays a campaign manager for a Presidential candidate of the Barack Obama mold (although in actuality Willimon was inspired by the 2004 campaign of Howard Dean). Gosling’s character is a rising star who finds himself played by a rival and has to decide how far he’s willing to go to get back in the game. Will he destroy the campaign of his now former boss (Clooney) just to keep his access to power? Where Clooney and longtime screenwriting and producing collaborator Grant Heslove have decided to take Willimon’s play is unclear and the preview thankfully doesn’t give that answer away.
To get your first glimpse of “Ides,” check out the trailer embedded below. And no matter what your political persuasion, it’s intriguing stuff.
“The Ides of March” debuts on Oct. 7 nationwide.
For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.