The cast of the new George Clooney movie, The Ides of March, looked stunning on the red carpet on Wednesday, the opening day of The 68th Annual Venice Film Festival. Ides of March was selected to be the opening movie at the festival, an honor that went to Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan last year, a film that later nabbed Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar.

Based on the play by political writer Beau WIllimon, the film, which marks Clooney's fourth directoral big-screen effort, is about the disillusionment a young Washington staffer (played by Ryan Gosling) undergoes when he encounters the seedy underbelly of presidential campaigning. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood round out the cast, with producer Grant Heslov.

The movie made quite a splash at the annual celebration. "It's a great film," Paolo Mereghetti of the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera told ScreenDaily. "Well constructed and superbly acted. I'd give it three stars out of four." Mereghetti believed that the movie would be appreciated by other Italian critics, as well. "We have a passion for politics," he explained. "The desire for idealism and [the reality of] disillusionment is a recurrent theme for the Italian public."

Clooney himself, however, doesn't talk about the film in political terms. He described it to journalists as a "morality play set in the world of politics." Whatever it is, it's enjoying a strong start. This is not the first time that Clooney and Heslov have teamed up. They also worked together on Good Night and Good Luck about broadcast journalist Edward Murrow during the McCarthy trials. The film earned six Oscar nominations in 2005,mincluding Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Clooney, Best Actor for star David Strathairn, and Best Motion Picture of the Year.

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