Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes, “The Place Beyond the Pines” (R) is a star power driven story that truly comes full circle in three seemingly separate character arcs. And despite a rather obvious plot twist that is glaring far prior to its eventual unveiling, a tremendous supporting cast coupled with the film’s unique penchant for an authentic grittiness makes “The Place Beyond the Pines” one worth seeking out, despite some recoverable structural flaws.
When a carnival motorcycle stuntman Luke (Gosling) discovers that he has a son born in secrecy, he realizes that void of other talents and forced to now provide for his family, he turns to robbing banks. After a slew of successful robberies, his final attempt goes awry and turns into a getaway chase which finds him in a face to face showdown with motivated police officer Avery Cross (Cooper), who is quickly rising up the ranks, amid a sea of internal police corruption. Little does each man know it at the time, but this one brief moment will impact their lives and the lives of those around them in ways they would never have imagined.
Although the film’s top billing goes to the three signature actors, the likes of Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood and Rose Byrne churn out excellent supporting roles. The standout however is Ben Mendelsohn whose turn as Robin Van Der Zee, a friend that harbors and assists Luke is as authentic and real as any performance in the film. With a cigarette seemingly attached to his bottom lip, you wind up sympathizing with the character despite his questionable motives that fuel him. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the film’s younger actors- Dane DeHaan (Jason) and the unbearable Emory Cohen (AJ)- who meander about for the last third of the film which endlessly drags, rounding out the aforementioned obvious premise.
With the success of director Derek Cianfrance’s last film “Blue Valentine,” he deserves credit for taking some risks here with an interconnected plot and a raw style of shooting. (And having Gosling sport a ratty “Ride the Lightning” t-shirt didn’t hurt much either.) But with as strong a cast here, we question whether the director gave them enough material to work with, considering the excellent work delivered in the bit parts from the secondary actors. “The Place Beyond the Pines” may have been a place of refuge for the film’s distraught characters, but it runs a bit long for the rest of us.
“The Place Behind the Pines” starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes is rated R, has a runtime of 140 minutes and is released on Wednesday, March 20th.
- Jane Van Arsdale