Summary: Luke is a stunt motorcycle rider who learns he fathered a son with a woman he met while in the area a year ago. After learning of this he wants to provide for her and the child. She already has a boyfriend who has been in her life and the child's consistently, but she has obvious feelings for Luke that remain. To provide Luke turns to robbery and this sends a police officer, Avery, involved in corrupt dealings on his tail.
Acting: This is one of the best roles I've seen Ryan Gosling in as Luke. He seems to have backed off the movie roles or this year. Luke never comes off as a good guy, and yet somehow Gosling makes him a likable character who is complex and one we seem to be cheering on despite his terrible choices. Eva Mendes is the woman he falls for, Romina. This is one of the best roles that Mendes has been in in a long time. Bradley Cooper seems to have picked a nice role to be in after his huge success in Silver Linings Playbook, and one that keeps him moving away more so from the typecasting of The Hangover. The guy he plays though, Avery, is just not ever likable to me. Rose Byrne also portrays his wife, but doesn't really make much of the role.
Filming: The movie is captured beautifully as far as atmosphere. Thankfully the disconnected scenes and shaky camera from Blue Valentine have been tamed a bit. While Cianfrance still has his love of telling intertwining stories that show a story over time he does it a lot better in his second movie. I loved the atmosphere he captured at the beginning as well with the fair, and the scene where the car is being driven through the woods is greatly shot as well.
Plot: The plot is one that is difficult to really tell, and for the sake of avoiding spoilers it's difficult to even really talk about it without spoiling it. I think it's one of the better movies I've seen exploring father and son relationships and I love how the movie builds into showing Avery's family and Luke's family. The way those two worlds collide is hard to watch. With Cianfrance you can expect something a bit dark as far as story, but I don't believe the movie was hard to watch as Blue Valentine was. It seems a lot of people were troubled by how depressing the content was.
The Place Beyond the Pines is one of my favorites I've seen this year. The music is beautifully done, the characters are well developed, and the filming is remarkable. The movie does have a long run time and I admit some things may have been dragged out a bit, but I was lost in the way the movie looked even during the silent moments.
Rating 9 of 10.