Stephen Myers (played by Ryan Gosling) was a rising political star. He was bright, idealistic, charming and articulate. He had a knack for massaging the press corps and avoiding tiger traps.
As such, he attracted others to him. His wit, charm and idealism made him attractive to others who felt they had similar gifts or simply admired him for his.
Yet one day Stephen’s world turned dark and cold.
The successful Presidential campaign he was working on fired him. The rival campaign, which had offered him a job, rescinded the offer. He found his new girlfriend dead.
Stephen had a choice. He could withdraw and try make sense of how the world he knew, and seemed to master, had so suddenly turned against him.
Alternatively, he could turn darker and colder to both more fit the world around him and, what is more, master it.
This new world no longer rewarded idealism and ability. If the most prized possessions were simply power and position — it was power and position from which Stephen would play.
His hand was strong.
As he explained to his former candidate, Governor Mike Morris (played by George Clooney), whom he was now blackmailing, “You broke the only rule in politics. If you want to be president you can start a war, you can lie, you can cheat, you can bankrupt a country, but you can’t f*** the interns. They’ll get you for that.”
There are no winners in the drama. It is dark and cold after all. But it is very compelling.