Director Derek Cianfrance made his name with ‘Blue Valentine’ looking at a married couple, charting their evolution over a span of years by cross-cutting between time periods. He’s followed this winning formula of eccentric, love and break-up story with a more thrilling, tense and ambiguous tale, which also spans over time to give the audience time to understand the complexities of the narrative and space for the characters to grow and understand themselves.
Without giving the game away the film is really two films, with a huge genre twist at its half-way point, with no dissipation of interest of intrigue, achieved partly due to the casting of two of Hollywood’s currently most-wanted male actors.
Ryan Gosling [reunited with Gianfrance] is a travelling motorcycle stunt rider and Bradley Cooper a cop turned politician, on the surface two very different lives yet they become inevitably entwined. The performances are every bit as good as you’d hope for with Gosling continuing his hot streak, proving that he's one of the most interesting actors working today. Is he the new Steve McQueen? Maybe…
The film, essentially a moody, thriller-drama has family at its core. the father/son connections are not always what you would expect, with plot twists and turns added at every opportunity. It is both a rich, encapsulating and rewarding film and an enormous accomplishment in storytelling.