Director: Derek Cianfrance
Year Released: 2012
Three part 'saga' starts with a motorcycle stuntman in the circus (Ryan Gosling) discovering a woman (Eva Mendes) he had a one-night stand with sired his child, so out of a sense of duty he leaves the circus and takes up bank robbing (!) to make money to support it, which leads to a shootout with a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper). You can't fault Cianfrance for not going for it all - he tries to cover too much story and too much philosophical ground in his allotted time frame (about "manhood" in general, not to mention sons paying the price for their fathers' 'sins') and while the first two acts (Gosling and Mendes followed by Cooper coping with guilt and corruption) are nuanced mini-narratives, the third act with Cooper and Gosling's offspring - played by Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan, respectively - becomes, by contrast, too blunt and direct (not to mention contrived), with the teens re-enacting their fathers' conflict. Still, it's a noble effort with some fantastic acting (particularly by Gosling and DeHaan), with DeHaan's misguided rebel (tragically?) taking up after his mixed-up Pop, getting a motorcycle and heading "out West." Let's hope it's to find a career that doesn't involve armed robbery....