Derek Cianfrance, director of the acclaimed drama Blue Valentine, has crafted in what is in many ways another tragic story of love. Ryan Gosling plays a down-on-his-luck stunt show motorcyclist who quits his job to be with his son, who he has just found out about.
Unfortunately, Luke must resort to robbing banks in order to support his family, which eventually leads him down a dark corner which results in a tense encounter with police officer Avery Cross, played by Bradley Cooper.
The film also chronicles the ups and downs of Cross’ life, including his career in politics and dealing with his troubled son. The film is ultimately all about different types of fathers and sons. It tries to drive home the point that no relationship is perfect and that love, even between father and son, is a complicated thing.
In doing so, however, the film eventually starts to feel almost like a soap opera, with these characters facing fairly unrealistic situations that turn their lives upside down.
While I appreciate the point Cianfrance was trying to make with this film, he was a little heavy-handed in doing so, and the audience does not walk out of the theatre feeling any particular sympathy or empathy for any of the characters, with the possible exception of Eva Mendes’ character of Luke’s girlfriend.
Once again, this may have been intentional on the director’s part, but I still feel like there should have been some kind of emotional impact felt on behalf of the audience to these tragic characters. Instead, the audience simply walks out of the theater tired of the drama and a little confused about what message the director was trying to get across.
It is a visually appealing film, and fairly inventive in terms of the narrative structure, with some fairly good acting by Gosling and Cooper especially, however the writing is all over the place, and not particularly memorable. It’s a good film that had the potential to be an excellent one, but it’s worth a rental when it comes out on DVD.