It may occur a bit contradictory that I don't have a lot to say about this movie, because in contrast to Law Abiding Citizen (see below), I quite liked this one. As has been written elsewhere, the movie's main theme is that power corrupts. And the movie is quite cynical about it. This portrait of an American election campaign appears so real that it might actually be shocking. In any way, it doesn't help much to restore my faith in such political practice. Campaigning is a lot different here in Germany, less focused on the candidate alone, yet I cannot imagine a complete qualitative difference from the scenario presented in the movie.
Ryan Gosling's play is outstanding. As a professional yet idealistic campaign manager, he has an enormous presence. Credits should also be due for George Clooney, who as director left Gosling enough room to develop his charisma and as actor gives his senator a multi-facetted character but still stays in the background. Clooney in Q&A sessions in the movie can be so charming and smart that you might actually be willing to vote for him once he decides to run for office for real.
All in all, while not especially cheerful this is a very entertaining and intelligent movie - I needed to check the subtitles more than once - with a lot of starpower and strong supporting performances (Philip Seymour Hoffmann and Marisa Tomei are impressive in their roles - they seem to have developed a powerful on-screen relationship, all the more so since ). Finally, the movie also boasts great poster design (above).