Nowhere as powerful as George Clooney's directorial success, Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), this film, based on a play by Beau Willimon, has a stellar cast but smells like West Wing in so many ways.
Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) runs a tight ship as the campaign coordinator for Democrat candidate Mike Morris (Clooney), but loses his footing when he makes a few rookie mistakes in his naive ambitiousness. As he almost gets fired by campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), he turns the tables by blackmailing Morris with a well-guarded secret and joins the very dirty politics he claimed to have loathed in his idealistic years.
There are flashes of The Godfather (1972) all the way through. Much like Michael Corleone, Stephen Meyers is corrupted right before our eyes and we can't really blame him. Even the last scene is extremely reminiscent of the final shot of The Godfather when Michael's fate is sealed. Clooney, Gosling, Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and various others make this an excellent lesson in acting - but the film seems to lack a soul...or a coherent mind. It gets you almost there, but never really hits the spot.