Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance makes a concerted stab at the epic with this two-and-a-half-hour roundelay of failed fathers and unloved sons trapped in a vicious cycle of emasculated rage. Ryan Gosling (and his chiseled abdomen) stars as a motorcycle stunt driver in a traveling carnival who, upon learning he's fathered an infant son, puts down roots in upstate New York and becomes an armed bank robber instead. He eventually crosses paths with a rookie cop (a terrific Bradley Cooper), who becomes the central figure of the movie’s second act, a charismatic climber in a precinct full of dirty cops (one played—in a folly of typecasting—by Ray Liotta). Finally, it's 15 years later, and the sons of both cop and robber (excellent newcomers Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan) find themselves sorting out their entwined destinies. Cianfrance's third feature has a go-for-broke, everything-I-ever-wanted-to-put-into-a-movie quality to it; it seems to have been conceived in a dazed rush after marathon readings of Aeschylus, Hemingway and Larry Brown. But while the acting is excellent, the metaphors are heavy, the plotting thin and repetitive. Sure to inspire indifference and cultish admiration in nearly equal measure, this extravagant mess may someday be reevaluated as a misunderstood masterpiece.
Derek CianfranceRyan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Dane DeHaan, Rose Byrne, Eva Mendes, Bruce Greenwood, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn, Harris YulinDerek Cianfrance, Ben CoccioLynette Howell, Sidney Kimmel, Alex Orlovsky, Jamie PatricofFocus Features