Ryan Gosling is Stephen Meyers, a young and idealistic campaign manager for Clooney's Governor Mike Morris, who is running for president (notably under many of the same ideals as Obama, and even sports a knock off of the Shepard Fairey designed "Hope" poster). Meyers teammate, and boss, is Paul Zara (played by Philip Syemour Hoffman). The two are unshakeable in their belief that Morris is the man to lead America, but when a key element of support from another politician isn't forthcoming, Stephen takes up an offer to meet with the manager of the opponents campaign, Tom Duffy (played by Paul Giamatti), against his better judgement. This begins a string of events that could potentially ruin a lot of people's career's, including Stephen's, and derail Moriss' campaign.
Gosling brings his trademark intensity to the role, and Clooney uses it to great effect. In fact Clooney seems to play on all of the strengths of his actors, from Hoffman's quiet and serious nature, to Giamatti's ability to play good cop/sleazy cop, to Evan Rachel Wood's seductiveness, He has picked all of his actors with great consideration. While Ides can sometimes move at a snails pace, it never seems to bloated. The slowness just comes off as a necessary part of the story. Ides doesn't really bring much of anything new to the genre, either, but as a zeitgeist film, focusing on what it means to be an idealistic political candidate or part of the support staff for said candidate, and the reality of how dirty politics is, Ides is a fantastic watch, especially as candidates are already gearing up, heavily, for a race that will be incredibly heated (and possibly messy) in 2012.