It wasn't a bad choice, to be honest with you. It wasn't as intelligent as it would have liked to be, and I don't think I liked it more than Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night, and Good Luck, the other two Clooney directed films I've seen, but I enjoyed it enough that I actually came out on the good side of it when all things were said and done.
The film focuses on a young campaign manager, Stephen, played by Ryan Gosling, who is working for Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who is running the campaign for Governor Mike Morris, played by George Clooney. A left wing, anti-war atheist, Clooney's Morris is the fantasy candidate of the moderate left, and Stephen believes in him. Morris, for the most part, never raises above the thin characterisation that is given for him, and his inevitable betrayal of Stephen's trust by sleeping with a young intern is, sadly, one that is uninspired. Still, from that, it would be remiss of me if I didn't note that the film creates some of its strongest moments in the dialogue surrounding the fallout of that relationship, and Clooney's directorial skills allow for him to play it with a pleasantly restrained hand, and he doesn't once resort to the cheap emotional cop out of cutting dialogue away and running music over the emotional climaxes.
Yet, as I said, the film never truly rises to be as intelligent as it would like. Clooney is unable to say anything about politics in America other than it corrupts all and wears down all who touch it, thus suggesting that the system itself is corrupt, but he never really examines that statement. Oh, he attempts to do so: Paul Giamatti's character acts as a foreshadow of what will happen to Stephen, but because the audience is given so little access to any character by the main one outside the campaign, the result isn't a particularly interesting one and results in Giamatti feeling mostly wasted, which is also true of Marisa Tomei in her one dimensional role as a journalist for the Times. That also means that Clooney's theme is just there, a tad lumpy, a bit like the theory put forth by a teenager, who may or may not say, 'absolute power corrupts absolutely,' at some point. But for the most part, Clooney's one note is enough to carry the audience through the film, with the performances of Gosling and Evan Rachel Wood proving to be mostly strong, just as the tone of the film remains consistent and engaging, so the complaint, while valid, is really about the difference between a good film and merely an engaging one.
In short, not a bad way to spent a Saturday afternoon, but I wouldn't say it set my world on fire.