Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Ryan Gosling stars as Luke, a motorcycle stunt driver that travels with a carnival. While in Schenectady, New York, Luke meets up with a lost flame, Romina (Eva Mendez). When he learns that she has had his child, he decides to stay in town in an effort to support Romina and his son. Times are tough, and as he struggles to raise enough money he decides that robbing banks may be the way to go. His criminal activities put him on an inevitable collision course with Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a young police officer.
This is the type of story that is quite difficult to describe without giving away key plot points. Suffice it to say, the aforementioned synopsis is but a small part of this drama. Many will be caught off guard with The Place Beyond the Pines. In terms of story, the film doesn’t follow your usual structure. Sure, the 3 acts are here, but not in the way you expect. Writer/director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) takes the viewer on a long journey that is both dramatic and emotionally complex.
The cast is truly impressive in every role. Ryan Gosling gives us an emotionally unstable persona. His Luke is a troubled man that does what he thinks is best, but simply makes escalating mistakes. Following his great turn in Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper delivers another great performance as a young cop struggling to deal with an incident that made him a local hero. Both of these talented actors are clearly at the top of their game.
The supporting cast are all excellent too. Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendehlson and Bruce Greenwood are all great, but it’s Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) and Emory Cohen (from TV’s Smash) that really shine. These two young actors are exceptionally convincing as teenagers that have been inevitably affected by the decisions of their respective fathers.
Outstanding performances aside, Cianfrance’s sure-footed directorial style is very impressive. The film is almost European in its calm approach to this story. There are long takes and long scenes without dialogue that give the film a quiet sense of power. It’s an emotional film, yet it never feels like it’s twisting your arm to make you feel.
The Place Beyond The Pines is a film that explores many themes. Primarily, it looks at the importance that fathers have on their sons and the role that our history can play in our lives and the lives of others. As an exploration, Pines works beautifully.
Derek Cianfrance has written and directed an impressive saga that benefits from the excellent performances by the talented cast. Unfortunately, there is a slight qualm to be had. At 140 minutes the film feels a little long, and certain scenes could have done with some trimming. Still, once the tense finale roles around, there’s no denying just how good a movie The Place Beyond the Pines really is.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10