Place Beyond the Pines is Both Bleak and Beguiling
- Friday, April 05, 2013
DVD Release Date: August 6, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 29, 2013 (limited) April 5, 2013 (expanded)
Rating: R (language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference)
Run Time: 140 min.
Director: Derek Clanfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Emory Cohen, Dane DeHaan
Well, one thing’s for sure, director Derek Clanfrance sure knows how to break your heart. After his gloomy tale of a once-loving marriage gone sour in 2010’s critically acclaimed Blue Valentine, Clanfrance calls on Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March) once again for another turn as a tortured soul with a surprising soft side in The Place Beyond the Pines.
Much like Gosling’s character in Drive, Luke is also a man of few words with some seriously repressed emotions. A motorcycle stunt rider in a rag-tag traveling carnival, he’s got a need for speed, tattoos on practically every square inch of skin and a violent streak simmering just beneath the surface.
Now back in Schenectady, New York, the same place he and the lovely Romina (Eva Mendes, The Other Guys) hooked up the last time he was in town, she checks in with him again—just to see if he remembers her. As it turns out, he does, and he quickly discovers that she hasn’t been pining for him. In fact, she’s got a new boyfriend (Mahershala Ali, TV’s "House of Cards") and a young son, Jason.
Given the nature of Luke's here-today-gone-tomorrow profession, the fact she's moved on isn't exactly shocking. What is a bit of a revelation, however, is that he’s Jason’s father.
As rough around the edges as Luke clearly is, he’s fiercely determined to do the right thing. Naturally, Romina is skeptical—as any good Mama with a kid and a stable significant other should be. But little does she know, Luke wants to provide for Jason and win her back in the process. And to do so, he utilizes his particular set of skills to start robbing banks.
It’s during Luke’s elaborate crime spree that he first encounters Avery (Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook), a seemingly straight-laced police officer who also has a young son. Luke and Avery are an intriguing pair of opposites to say the least. The viewer learns a lot about these men without them even speaking, thanks to a handheld camera that picks up every important detail.
Like Luke, Avery has faced his share of moral dilemmas, and now, they’re mounting up like nobody’s business. Forced to choose whether to climb the career ladder or languish in the boring details of crime solving, his sense of obligation to his wife (Rose Byrne, Bridesmaids) and son are making his decisions very difficult indeed.
While Clanfrance has already given the audience plenty to chew on with the bleak but beguiling snapshots of Luke and Avery’s complicated lives, he stuffs yet another narrative into a film that was already getting too long. In what’s the film’s weakest link, we also get a ringside seat to what’s become of their sons fifteen years later.
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