Channel 4: PREMIERE Sunday 13 September, 11.30pm
After learning that former fling Eva Mendes had his baby son, motorcycle stunt rider Ryan Gosling surmises the best way to support his new-found family is to rob banks in Schenectady, New York. Ladies love outlaws? Mendes sees him clearly enough: “You’re crazy!” And, within the hour, he’s gone. Shot dead by ambitious rookie cop Bradley Cooper. Whose conflicted feelings and no-account son account for the second half of a broken-backed film aiming for epic intensity.
Gosling’s Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance isn’t really cut out for gritty crime drama. He’s not even interested in it. He’s focused primarily on messy relationships and emotional meltdowns. So it’s a pity he doesn’t find a way to make his blue-collar characters more interesting than ciphers in a semi-improvised actor workshop. (Apparently the solemn script went through 37 drafts, but that’s hard to believe.)
Gosling’s ‘stage’ name might be Handsome Luke but he’s a study in greasemonkey scruffiness: peroxide hair, bad tattoos and tatty old T-shirts inside out. His personality’s not up to much, either: inarticulate and angry, lousy attitude and low intelligence. At least Cooper and Ray Liotta, the latter all-too briefly reviving sour memories of Cop Land, give proper performances. “Look,” says Liotta sotto voce to Eva Mendes, “You assume that I have a warrant and I’ll assume that your mother has papers.”