The Place Beyond the Pines is a new film from Derek Cianfrance, starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, it was released into theaters on April 12. The story follows Gosling as a bank-robbing motorcyclist and Cooper as a cop, and examines how their fates intertwine across generations.
The advertisements focus a lot on Gosling looking like a badass riding motorcycles, almost making it look like a rehash of 2011’s excellent Drive. In fact, the advertising is fairly misleading, and aside from some superficial similarities, the movie has very little in common with Drive or other movies of that nature. The movie has much grander ambitions than being a simple action thriller, and it is difficult to go into more detail without giving the crux of the film away. Suffice it to say, the movie favors the emotional storytelling of Cianfrance’s previous Gosling collaboration, Blue Valentine, over anything else.
The acting is one of the reasons the movie works so well. Gosling is convincing as a man who has made many bad decisions in his life and is forced to face his consequences as he learns he has a baby. Cooper is equally good as a good-hearted cop who is faced with corruption within his own police force, and his role grows more emotionally complex as the movie goes on.
Technically, the film also shines. It retains the strong visual style Cianfrance demonstrated in Blue Valentine, mixing in wide vista shots with emotionally loaded extreme close-ups. The opening shot of the film is a very impressive long take which goes on for minutes, and perfectly establishes Gosling’s character. The soundtrack is also good, with some distortion-heavy ambient tunes and a delicate, emotional recurring theme. Sometimes the pace slows down a bit too much, but it always picks back up just in time.
Do not be fooled by the ads. The Place Beyond the Pines is not Drive. It is a complex drama about fatherhood, violence, and apathy spreading across generations. If you are patient enough to sit through all two hours and twenty minutes of it, The Place Beyond the Pines will reward your patience with an emotionally fulfilling and intellectually stimulating film-going experience.