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The Slaughter Rule

David Morse coaches small-town football star Ryan Gosling (pictured) in this film about the Platonic love between a fatherless boy and his closeted coach. Directorial debut of Andrew and Alex Smith. (1 hr. 57 mins.; R) — BILGE EBIRI

Spotlight: Ryan Gosling
Having made his name as a ferocious, self-hating Jewish skinhead in The Believer, 22-year-old Ryan Gosling gives another memorable performance as a lonely, world-hating fatherless quarterback in The Slaughter Rule. "It's not that I'm attracted to dark roles," Gosling says. "I'm just attracted to good writing, and these are the best scripts that I've read." The Slaughter Rule, written and directed by brothers Andrew and Alex Smith, plays like a cross between Chuck and Buck and Varsity Blues. It's that elusiveness that sold Gosling on the part: "I like films that are more about asking questions than about making a point." He next appears in The United States of Leland as a miscreant, opposite Kevin Spacey. "I like wrestling with issues onscreen that I don't have answers for in my life."

Opens January 8
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