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MOVIE REVIEW: The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines is another example of independent filmmaking at it near best. In spite of being long and sometimes drawn out, the acting pleases and story gets across its message.

8.2 out of 10 | RentalRated: R Language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference
Release Date: March 29, 2013 (limited)
Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutesDirector: Derek Cianfrance
Writers:  Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ray LiottaWatch Trailer

SYNOPSIS:  A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.

REVIEW: Writer/Director Derek Cianfrance, known for the acclaimed Blue Valentine, uses his clout to snag premiere A-Listers Ryan Gosling (Drive) and Bradley Cooper (Silver Lining Playbook). Co-written by Zero Day's Ben Coccio and new writer Darius Marder, Cianfrance brings us for a tale with dire decisions and complex consequences.

Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling, Gangster Squad)is a motorcycle stuntman employed with a traveling carnival. When he returns to Schenectady, New York, he finds out that the girl he had a fling with the year before, Romina (Eva Mendes, Fast Five) became pregnant with his child Jason. Wanting to provide for his son, Luke quits the carnival and takes a job as a mechanic with a trailer as a place to live to stay in proximity to his son. Unable to provide Romina with the things her and Jason needs, Luke resorts to robbing banks for money. Enter rookie cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper, The Hangover Part 2) who has to chase Luke down. Afterward, Avery finds himself in the spotlight as a hero of the police department. With a job threatening injury, Avery faces departmental corruption in the form of fellow officers , Deluca (Ray Liotta, Killing Them Softly) and others. Avery is forced to make hard decisions concerning his pride, his ethics, and his family.

Cianfrance has proven himself a powerhouse indie director with the intense and emotionally charged Blue Valentine. He returns for an epic tale involving the decisions fathers make for their sons. Gosling's Luke looks to make good on a belief that he should provide for his newfound son Jason. Avery provides for his family, too, more comfortable behind the steering wheel of a police cruiser instead of at a prosecutors table in a court of law like his own father. Romina's boyfriend takes the fraternal role from the moment of Jason's birth after Luke left town. Fathers beget sons beget sons. There is a cyclical and circular nature to the way that life repeats itself.

Ryan Gosling is brilliant in this film. He brings his natural charms and rugged great looks to the role, amplified by his severe acting talent. He can deliver as much story by saying nothing as he can through dialogue - sometimes more. Gosling is of the new breed of stellar performers. Bradley Cooper, fresh off his talked about performance in Silver Linings Playbook finds himself playing catch up against Gosling's newspaper dubbed Moto Bandit. As the second act commences the focus of the film draws away from Gosling's Luke and centers itself squarely on Bradley Cooper's Avery. There are other known names in the film with Liotta and Bruce Greenwood, But the film really is Gosling and Cooper's. In the third act when we fast-forward several years to Luke and Avery sons AJ and Jason. Dane Dehaan (Chronicle) and Emory Cohen (NBC's Smash) shine as well although Dehaan is centerstage.

Cianfrance makes beautiful use of cinematography, makes maximum use of a simplistic musical score and stabled superior acting talent. Coming in at over 2 hours and 20 minutes The place be on the Pines is a commitment. Told as three separate interlocking story arcs The Place Beyond the Pines could have been a movie using any of the three acts. My expectation was that Gosling and Cooper would have had a more cat and mouse interaction for a longer period of the film, but Cianfrance had a very specific concept in mine for his story.

Some may be disappointed in how Cianfrance segmented his film. As beautifully crafted and executed as the film is, it still may be too indy for some people to enjoy. The writer/director focused on the nature of relationships between a husband and his family, and fathers and sons. Symbolically, Cianfrance uses repetitive actions and recurring dialogue from different characters to drive home that no matter how we change our life for the good or the better some things cannot be escaped.

The Place Beyond the Pines is another example of independent filmmaking at it near best. In spite of being long and sometimes drawn out, the acting pleases and story gets across its message.

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