Page 1 of 3
Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper team up in this fascinatingly off-kilter crime thriller....
Universal / 140 Minutes / 2013 / Rated R / Street Date: August 6, 2013
The Place Beyond the Pines is a thinky, morose crime movie, a film about redemption, passion, corruption, and what a guy must do in order to find a place in the world for himself. Sure, this is an esoteric, overly-philosophical conceit for a thriller, but The Place Beyond the Pines comes dangerously close to pulling it off: it’s a film more ambitious than good, more thought-provoking than dramatically finessed, but this nebulous drive is what lends The Place Beyond the Pines its eerie backbone.
We juggle three major story arcs in the movie. First, we have Luke (OMG! Ryan Gosling!), a stunt motorcycle driver working for a constantly-touring carnival of sorts. At his latest stop, he realizes that when he rolled through there last time (about a year back), he had a luscious fling with the lovely Romina (Evan Mendes), and when he reconnects with her, not only is the passion back, but he realizes that there’s a mini-Gosling there, too. This newfound sense of fatherhood splinters Luke’s life, forcing him to choose between the rambling thrills of moto-entertainment and the duties of domestic life.
Then there’s a policeman named Avery (OMG! Bradley Cooper!), a newcomer to the force who figures heavily into one of Luke’s money-making ventures (to avoid spoilers, let’s just say that Luke’s bank heist doesn’t go as planned). Avery’s saga involves the deeply corrupt cop world around him and how he and his family fit into it. Money’s great, sure, but is it worth selling your soul for?
Then, in a real left-field narrative switcheroo, we fast-forward a decade and a half to see Avery still knee-deep in the public service business, this time running for major office while noticing that his son has begun hanging out with a cross-section of thugs and hoodlums, and things bubble to a boil in a matter of minutes, with both electoral hopes and this family’s very lives hanging in the balance. It’s a sobering, oddly formulated little lark of a movie, one that isn’t afraid to stretch and subvert its major celebrity presences in the service of a deeply moving story arc. Not all of it works, but as a Pulp Fiction-meets-GoodFellas via Winter’s Bone kind of pastiche, it keeps you guessing until its final surprising moments.