"The Place Beyond the Pines" Draws Comparisons to "Drive"

Photo Credit: Focus Features
January 8th, 2013

"The Place Beyond the Pines" Draws Comparisons to "Drive"

-- Ryan Gosling stars as a motorcycle rider who makes sacrifices to save the woman he loves. Some might think that this is the short plot line of Gosling's film "Drive," but it actually describes his newest film "The Place Beyond the Pines." The film, which doesn't open in the United States until March, already has a high rating from those who saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival, and other fans eagerly await its release date.

The film stars Gosling ("The Ides of March") as a stunt rider named Luke. Directed by Derek Cianfrance, who previously worked with the actor on "Blue Valentine," it tells the story of a man who finds himself going down a dark and dangerous course with a police officer. Luke is a stunt driver who makes a living at a traveling circus/carnival. At one stop, he runs into his former lover Romina (Eva Mendes, "We Own the Night"). When Romina announces that he has a son he never knew about, he makes the decision to do whatever it takes to care for his new family.

While most men might settle down and get a job, Luke opts for bank robbery. Using his motorcycle as a getaway vehicle, he discovers that it's easy to get in and out of the bank and lose the cops as he darts in and out of traffic. On one robbery, he crosses paths with Avery (Bradley Cooper, "The A-Team"), a copy who decides that capturing Luke will make him a celebrity and help him move up in the police ranks. The two engage in a dark and twisted game of cat and mouse that culminates in destructive ways.

The film's trailer and poster highlight Gosling, and he receives top billing in the film, but fans might feel disappointed when his character leaves the film early. "The Place Beyond the Pines" is essentially a modern day film noir combined with a classic crime drama, and it features three major storylines. After Gosling disappears, the film begins focusing on Cooper's character. Avery finds himself trapped between the life that he wants for himself and the things that he did in the past.

Critics hailed Cooper's performance in "Silver Linings Playbook," which garnered him several award nominations, but he does an even better job in "The Place Beyond the Pines." Avery is a man who cannot forget his past and feels guilty everyday for something that he did. Even as he attempts to launch his political career, he remains ever fearful that someone will find out what happened. Cooper does an admirable job in the film, giving his eyes a haunted look that no viewer will soon forget. He also shares a connection with Rose Byrne ("Bridesmaids") who appears later in the film as his wife. Though Byrne only appears in the last segment of the film, her role is a strong one that helps carry the weaker end scenes.

The film has a runtime of well over two hours, which gives it time to focus on the various storylines. Ray Liotta ("Goodfellas") turns up as the classic dirty cop, while Dane DeHaan ("Lawless") appears as Luke's son, who wants payback for what happened to his father. Every character has a connection to each other, and viewers will find themselves excited as those relationships unwind onscreen.

The film does an excellent job of setting the stage and explaining each character without wasting time. In the opening scenes, Gosling appears in a Metallica tee shirt with his tag hanging out, letting the viewers see that this is a man who doesn't care what people think. He quickly jumps on his motorcycle, and the camera pans back slowly to reveal the dusty world behind him as he takes his bike into a cage for the amusement of others. Within the first five minutes of the film, the viewer knows that Luke doesn't care about many things and that his life is a hard one.

"The Place Beyond the Pines" does ask viewers to suspend belief at times, particularly later in the film. DeHaan's character meets a young man played by Emory Cohen. The two become friends, not realizing that their fathers, Luke and Avery, shared a dark history. Given that the Luke and Avery story is what kicks off the film, it's hard to believe that the two would have no knowledge of each other.

Stellar acting will make viewers overlook any of their issues with the film. "The Place Beyond the Pines" tells a story that combines crime, drama, action, and mystery into one sleek and entertaining package.