This drama about a passionate junior high school history teacher in Brooklyn (Ryan Gosling) who is struggling with an encroaching drug habit isn’t just another grungy depiction of drug addiction’s downward spiral. It has those moments, but it’s also a story of unlikely salvation – of the triumph of a person’s good side. For Gosling’s Dan Dunne, that comes via a troubled student named Drey (Shareeka Epps), who stumbles upon Dan’s secret and harbors secrets of her own at home. Their complicated, protective relationship ultimately saves both of their lives. Gosling and Epps’ performances obliterate any traces of hokeyness. She’s a sullen natural, while Gosling breaks open his usual method madness (The Believer, The Notebook) to reveal layers of compassion, tenderness and hurt.