DRAMA; 2hr 20min
STARRING: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes
Tough love: Gosling and Mendes
Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance were a red-hot partnership with 2010’s Blue Valentine. In that film, Gosling played a man struggling to keep his marriage together. He’s struggling in this doomy generational drama, too, to rebuild his life from the ground up. And once again, the odds are stacked against him.
Tatt-encased and sunk in gloom, Gosling is fairground stunt-bike rider Luke Glanton, a taciturn drifter who takes to the last-ditch tactic of robbing banks to support the baby that he learns he fathered a year ago with diner waitress Romina (Mendes). Glanton’s downhill slide of righting wrongs by doing wrong leads him to a defining encounter with zealous police officer Avery Cross (Cooper). Like Glanton, Cross has a one-year-old son. In all other respects, the two could not appear to be more different, but Cross’s life is no cakewalk, either.
Cianfrance is all about the nitty-gritty, with cinematographer Sean Bobbitt holding tight-to-head shots in a stark palette as the ripple effect of drastic actions percolates through the years. At 140 minutes, it’s a heavy load that keeps getting heavier. Don’t hold out for an easy-peasy deliverance. That escape route was never an option.