Fathers and sons. This is the theme of this film directed by Derek Cianfrance.
Ryan Gosling stars in this film, as he did in Cianfrance's previous movie, Blue Valentine. In this film he plays almost the same character, a tough, working class guy who has a tendency to be violent but who is also defined by his very strong paternal instinct.
Gosling's character, Luke, discovers that he has a son by a woman who he met in a small town in
, played by Eva
Mendes. He decides to turn to a life of crime to be able to contribute to his
son's upbringing. New York
Cue Bradley Cooper. He plays a cop, Avery Cross, who finally catches up with Luke after he robs one bank too many. The police officer has his own run in with authority and later sparks an internal police investigation to save his own skin.
Move forward fifteen years, and the two men's sons, now both seventeen, encounter each other in the small town where their respective fathers had their fateful meeting.
There is the predictable influence of history on this new generation. The sons know nothing about the connection between their parents, but the past inevitably makes itself known. The two younger men have their own entanglement, and things come to a head with the violence, and the threat of worse.
This is a curious film. It is slow, and long, and should really drag, though does somehow manage to maintain interest. The changing of the perspectives helps here, we move from Gosling's character to Cooper, to then looking at the lives of the sons.
For me the differing narratives are what makes the film interesting. Ryan Gosling's character is central for nearly an hour, and then Bradley Cooper's compromised cop takes over, almost seamlessly. There is a development to the story that holds the viewer, and a form of resolution in the last half an hour that succeeds in fitting the narratives together, of making sense.
It is not as profound as it thinks it is, but the movie does have elements that raise it above what could have been an overly sentimental story of family, fathers and sons.