Written May 28, 2016
What a great film! The story has 3 distinct parts, or call them Acts, that explore two very different father-son relationships. The fathers are well played by Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. Gosling plays a carnival motorcycle stuntman who finds out he has a son and makes an admirable attempt to become a part of his life. Unfortunately, he chooses to try his hand at bank robbery to make the money necessary to woo his ex-girlfriend. It's difficult not to care about him and his plight despite his crimes. He ultimately collides with a cop played by Bradley Cooper and the story then focuses on Cooper's character for the remainder of the film. However, such a collision has consequences and there's plenty of residual damage that gets passed on to the sons of both characters in the 3rd Act. Cooper is excellent in this role. Some of his lines were delivered with an eerie similarity to the character he portrayed in Silver Linings Playbook, but that's a positive here.
Written February 11, 2016
I have to rate this a noble failure. All three main actors: Gosling, Cooper, Mendes are typically insanely talented and charismatic. Here, however, they were wrong. I don't know if they weren't right for the parts, or chose to play them blank and "frozen", or simply bad on-screen chemistry. Their story never came alive to me. The young actors in the second half were so unlikeable, that I didn't. Like them, I mean. To summarize, the most sympathetic and interesting character in this film is Mendes character's husband. The guy who stepped in and made a family for Mendes character and baby.
Written September 28, 2016
Man, what a ride this was. I liken it to a square. You're going along in a straight line, you think you know what the story is and where it's going, then all the sudden BAM!! 90 degree turn, now we are going down a different road. You start to get a handle on things, you get comfortable again, "ok, two stories in one I get it", still not sure if you like either one all that much, then all the sudden BAM!! 90 degree turn again! Now you are expecting the unexpected, they aren't going to hit you again, but you know you gotta get back to where you started right? BAM! One final turn to take you to the home stretch, suddenly you're not in the theater anymore, your in Schenectady, NY, and you're just looking around, wondering what they'll bring you next.
I know it's probably not for everybody, it gets tough to follow at times and you may get mad at it once in a while. At the end of the day though you were very entertained, that's how it was for me at least.......
Written August 30, 2016
Good movie with a few good twists and turns. Gosling was great and Cooper was excellent. Really shows the differences in society and how you cannot escape your past.
Written July 24, 2016
This is a serious movie, not Hollywood formula, and so, perhaps not for everybody. All the actors were very good, including most surprisingly, Eve Mendes. Impressive cinematography given the somewhat grimy side of small town America that is the setting and in a way, a character in the movie.There are big themes at play here, including "sins of the father" and moral ambiguity. Are any of these characters "all bad?"
I really enjoyed this movie and my companions and I had a lot to chew on afterwards. It's certainly not a blockbuster (although there are some well done chase scenes), but well worth the price of admission.
P.S. Check out the first scene, which is all one continuous shot.