If you’re looking for a starry-eyed idealist, whose utopian dreams may be crushed by harsh reality in The Ides of March, it’s best to start your looking elsewhere. The principal action takes place in the days leading up to a crucial Democratic primary in Ohio. Morris is leading his more liberal opponent, an Arkansas senator, in the polls, and a win in Ohio would give Morris enough delegates to put him nearly over the top. But there are plenty of complex details for Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) and Mike Morris’ (George Clooney) campaign manager, Paul Zara (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), to contend with. The crucial endorsement of another senator (Jeffrey Wright) requires careful negotiation. An open primary presents the possibility that Republicans will flood the Ohio polls to help take down Morris, the theoretically more “electable” moderate Democrat. And when Myers becomes aware of Morris’ involvement in a potentially devastating scandal, he’s forced to launch into rapid damage control. But everything in The Ides of March ultimately pivots around the way Myers reacts when cornered — by the need to clean up Morris’ mess, by rumors that he may have met with an opposing campaign manager (Paul Giamatti) — and that’s where the movie hits a wall. Clooney tries to add some directing flair to this adaptation, but many of his choices feel showy, like lingering on the exterior of an SUV where a political beheading is taking place rather than showing us the actual conversation. Despite the Shakespearean overtones of the title, The Ides of March doesn’t focus its attentions where they seem to be most crucial — on whether Myers is about to make the choice to sell his soul, or whether he’s long since offered it up on the eBay of contemporary politics and is just waiting out the end of the auction.