Derek Cianfrance’s new movie The Place Beyond the Pines reveals a movie gold. It’s a beast of a film, an emotional roller coaster that threatens to go off the rails, and does. Slowly, it unfolds into a kind of epic that shift into indie melodrama.
Cianfrance draws a superb performance from pairs Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper as two men on opposite sides of the law in Schenectady, NY. Gosling is Luke, a motorcycle stunt man in a traveling circus who learns he has a one year-old child with Romina (Eva Mendes). After quitting the circus to raise his kid, Luke makes the choice to rob banks to save up some cash so he and Romina can skip town and begin life anew. Cooper is Avery, the rookie cop who inadvertently crosses paths with Luke and his life unexpectedly changed forever. The actions caused by Luke and Avery then affect their two boys when they finally meet as teenagers in high school. Together they must face their own inner demons which they inherited from the choices their fathers made.
The most compelling aspect of this film is Cianfrance’s (along with fellow screenwriters Ben Coccio and Darius Marder) portrayal of choice. They lay out every character’s options for all to see, and then watch these very human characters make their choices, which aren’t always the right ones. With each choice comes a different path for the character, mostly leading to an internally darker place.
Ryan Gosling, who teamed brilliantly with Cianfrance on Blue Valentine, once again showed a fascinating character to watch. We can see the un-calibrated gears running in his head, falling out of alignment and into disarray and eventual destruction. Gosling did this so well in Drive and continues that here. Watching this tortured soul come to certain impasses and then take the wrong way makes for great storytelling and Gosling’s ghostly performance is suitably unnerving.
If Cooper didn’t convince you in Silver Linings Playbook that he has the potential to be a great actor, then The Place Beyond the Pines should seal the deal. Even more than his in Oscar-nominated performance in Silver Linings Playbook, Cooper is able to display an even greater range here with a larger character arc. He wonderfully presents Avery as a disconnected but likeable broken hero.
With a dash of gritty crime drama, truly compelling characters and top-notch acting from Cooper and Gosling, Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is a must-see. (Text Teuku Ajie)
Watch the official trailer below:
The Place Beyond the Pines has been released in the US on March 29, 2013.