When Luke (Ryan Gosling – Drive), a motorcycle stunt-rider with a travelling fair, returns to town, he meets up with an old flame named Romina (Eva Mendes – Training Day). Unknown to him until now, he has fathered a son with her. So he quits his job to stay in town and make some real money to support his family. Luke decides to rob the local bank with the help of a local mechanic (Ben Mendelsohn – The Dark Knight Rises) but this decision soon collides with a local beat cop (Bradley Cooper – The A-Team).This starts a chain of events that will affect both men and the lives of their sons.
The Place Beyond The Pines is a stellar drama, full of tragedy and dashed hopes. In a story that charts almost 3 generations of fathers and sons, this is an ambitious undertaking from Derek Cianfrance, who impressed with his last effort Blue Valentine.
Ryan Gosling, the most in-demand talent in Hollywood today, once again shows why he is so highly regarded. The Drive and Crazy Stupid Love actor knows how to get the right balance in every one of his films and The Place Beyond The Pines really stretches him as a performer.
Cianfrance knows how to get the best from Gosling as an actor too and the two are developing quite an understanding (perhaps even rivalling the working process Gosling shares with Nicolas Winding Refn). Having worked together so well on Blue Valentine, this successful partnership is now carried forward here.
Bradley Cooper has finally reached a level where he is getting roles to match his talent. For so long Cooper has been an actor many have admired but who never really got the worthy roles that would stretch him as a performer. Now he has been given his chance and he grabs it with both hands. He is fantastic in The Place Beyond The Pines, showcasing a new side to his repertoire. Cooper isn’t the token hero here but instead a man who wants to do well but is stifled by his surroundings and circumstance. He handles the complexities of the role with a maturity and texture that is a joy to watch.
The supporting cast are all excellent and drive this story forward with small but powerful cameos that go some way to shape this epic saga. Rose Byrne is brilliant in a very small but pivotal role whilst Eva Mendes reminds us all that she is a capable actress. Bruce Greenwood, Ray Liotta and Dane DeHaan round off the impressive ensemble.
Ben Mendelsohn just about shades it as the best supporting performance in the movie. His character’s story unites so many threads of this film and his layered and delicate handling of the role makes for compelling viewing. His dynamic with Ryan Gosling is also played with assured quality throughout.
The film is shot beautifully and you’d expect nothing less from Derek Cianfrance. The film’s opening sequence is a long-shot scene that introduces us to Gosling’s character Luke. It acts as a statement of intent from the director that this is a film that will challenge your perceptions. It’s a wonderfully constructed sequence that perfectly encapsulates Luke as a character.
With a story full of tragedy, hope and aspiration, The Place Beyond The Pines is a wonderful drama that will strike a personal chord with you. It’s a film that challenges your preconceptions and surprises throughout. It also features a particularly shocking moment that turns the entire movie on its head – something that audiences definitely won’t see coming.