I had really high hopes for this movie. Yes, it had great actors, but more than that, it was a fantastic director- the same guy who did Blue Valentine, one of our favorite movies- and the story seemed to hit a lot of issues. In the end, it may have been too many issues.
Imdb synopsis:A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
First and foremost, Gosling is more than just a pretty face. He does awkward SO. WELL. The little half-smile he has when he's nervous or the thousand yard stare convey a lot. He doesn't feel obligated to "show" you emotion, he "feels" emotion. Even though Gosling was a headliner for the movie- and affects all of the other characters even when he's not on-screen- he wasn't in the movie as much as the other actors were. Which was disappointing because I didn't feel that the rest of the movie was carried very well.
The movie is separated into roughly three parts: Gosling's story, Cooper's story and the story of their sons. It's sort of a generational "sins of their fathers" type of thing. An important thing to remember about movies is that a lot of times they tell the same story, just different. The essence of the movie is the same, it's just the details, the character quirks, the setting and so on that make movies different. And with all of these variables, you could tell the same story over and over again and get a different feeling with each thing you change. So while the plot worked and hit all of the major points, I didn't feel that each third of the movie connected to the others. The message and/or the overall "feeling" of the movie was lost on me because there were so many tie-ins that the plot avoided.
Cianfrance could have stopped with just the story between Gosling and Cooper. Or he could have told the story about Cooper with Gosling as an interesting twist. Heck, he could have given more life to both supporting actresses which were relegated to having events happen to them instead of being three-dimensional characters. Nice try with the bra-less Eva Mendes, though. I bet lots of people enjoyed that.
I was really expecting a gut-clenching tale woven around mistakes made for all the right reasons. Instead I got a twisting, disconnected story with beautiful imagery of Schenectady (SO FUN to say) and too many loose ends.