The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines ★★★★

Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are two actors who have really built their names up in Hollywood over the last couple of years. Gosling has appealed to pretty much everyone with his marquee looks and award-worthy performances while Cooper started off with big commercial films like the Hangover franchise before diving into an Oscar-nominated turn in The Silver Linings Playbook. Thee two up-and-coming actors came together for this film, the second mainstream feature from Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine). Cianfrance expands the scope of his storytelling here; where Blue Valentine told the disintegration of a marriage spread out over the course of several years, Place Beyond the Pines shows the disintegration of families over the course of a lifetime. The epic scope means that it is a lot to fit within one film, but Cianfrance does an admirable job of condensing the story of two generations into a single two and a half hour tale. Gosling is magnetic as the stunt man Luke who has good intentions but bad methods to keeping his family together, while Cooper's cop goes through much the same in his own similar quest. Eva Mendes gives her best performance in years while Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn and Dane DeHaan in particular are all great. The film's only real flaw is the somewhat-jarring change in tones from Luke's story to Avery's and then to the kids, but that's a small crime in the long run and all in all it makes for another great, thought-provoking drama from Cianfrance.