If you have any ounce of faith in the political process, I recommend you skip "The Ides of March." The George Clooney-directed political thriller is such a bleakly cynical look, it will stamp that right out of you.

If you have any ounce of faith in the political process, I recommend you skip "The Ides of March."

The George Clooney-directed political thriller is such a bleakly cynical look, it will stamp that right out of you.

Set during a hotly contested Democratic presidential primary race in Ohio, it centers on Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling), a talented and idealistic young politico.

He's working on the campaign of Gov. Mike Morris (Clooney), a once-in-a-lifetime mix of great policy and electability that drives Stephen to great lengths to put him in the White House. Then Stephen gets an offer from a member of the opposing campaign (Paul Giamatti) that tests his loyalty.

Working from a play by former campaign worker Beau Willimon and boasting an absolutely stellar cast, Clooney should be delivering an Oscar contender here.

Sadly, I found it disappointingly flat. We watch Gosling's Stephen spiral slowly into dirty politics, but the affair offers less dramatic punch than it should.

Honestly, Gosling and Clooney's sheer charm on the screen makes it imminently watchable, and political wonks will eat it up with a spoon.

But with this subject, this cast and the previously stellar track record of Clooney as director, I expected more. Guess I should have been the cynic.