Last week, we travelled with Tom Cruise into the fabulous world of sci-fi with “Oblivion.” This week, Ryan Gosling will take us on a long, dark ride into the drama called, “The Place Beyond the Pines.” Bradley Cooper is going to meet us there.
Gosling re-teams with his “Blue Valentine” director, Derek Cianfrance, for this raw, ambitiously authentic look at fathers, sons, mortality and the long-reaching consequences of our actions.
Gosling plays Luke, a rough-around-the-edges carnival stunt rider who learns that a one-night encounter with Romina (Eva Mendes) resulted in a child.
Though Mendes has moved on with Kofi (Mahershala Ali), Luke wants to do right by the family he didn’t know he had. He starts robbing banks to earn money to support them. This choice leads him into a collision with a Schenectady cop, Avery (Cooper).
What gal could resist a drama starring Gosling as a complex, tattooed, muscled, lost soul with a heart of gold? I couldn’t. What I got for my trouble was a long potboiler of a film, which is intensely original, but flawed. In fact, my description of the plot sells the film a little more perhaps than it deserves.
The movie unfolds in three acts. You get Luke’s story, then Avery’s.
Though undeniably connected, they are separated in presentation, which is something which shocks filmgoers. The third act is about Luke’s and Avery’s teenage children.
What are the flaws? After seeing Cooper really wow in “Silver Linings Playbook,” his character here didn’t have enough oomph for me, which was no fault of his.
Of all the cast — which includes a scary Ray Liotta (when is he not scary?), a pitch-perfect Ben Mendelsohn, a decent Rose Byrne and a pretty good Dane Dehaan — Gosling is the penny that shines up the brightest. I still prefer “Drive” or “Fracture” when I need a fix from the heartthrob, though.
And I have to mention Emory Cohen, a force of nature as Avery’s thug son. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see this young man again sometime soon.
There’s a lot of gray area in this film, which leaves things muddled and unsaid. Critics were quick to seize on these, but I still took the whole as something worthwhile. I have to say …
I’m a fan.