The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines ★★★★½

It has been called "sprawling" and "epic" by what seems like hundreds of people already, and its disbelievers like to throw around phrases like "over-ambitious" and "too reliant on implausible coincidence". Although some (or all) of these statements might be accurate, I for one had absolutely no problem with the boundary-less way Derek Cianfrance chose to tell this deeply affecting story of interlocking fates.

I wish American cinema would take risks like this more often.

Even if it's not much of a departure from his character in Drive, Gosling once again delivers an inevitably engrossing performance here. When it comes to the acting in The Place Beyond the Pines, nearly all of the people involved are deserving of extremely high praise, which is impressive considering that some of the names on the cast list are people I've never particularly been a fan of before the last few months. Of course I am speaking mostly about Bradley Cooper, who adds a second straight knockout performance to his recent surge of career-bettering choices. It's ultimately Cooper who was the core of the movie, and he comes out as the most memorable, alongside young Dane Dehaan, who arguably gives the most emotionally gut-wrenching performance so far in 2013.

Eva Mendes also cannot go without mention, as she gives the best performance so far in a career that has plenty of questionable decisions yet lately have changed for the better and shown her true talents. Ray Liotta is playing a redundant Ray Liotta-cop-character again, but this time he has been given something of substance and he puts in his best work in a very long time. The only uneven performance in the entire film is that of newcomer Emory Cohen, who clearly doesn't know exactly how to grasp such a significant role in a daunting project such as this. It's a small gripe, but his role is big enough to ultimately cause me to demote my rating by a half star.

In the end, the true star of the film is Cianfrance himself, who shoots for higher than the sky and succeeds on almost all accounts, making an even stronger statement than his impressive debut, Blue Valentine, that he is indeed one of the finest of his generation.

Andy Ferguson liked these reviews