A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
A mysterious and mythical motorcycle racer, Luke, (Ryan Gosling) drives out of a traveling carnival globe of death and whizzes through the backstreets of Schenectady, New York, desperately trying to connect with a former lover, Romina, (Eva Mendes) who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider's son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross, (Bradley Cooper) looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. The sweeping drama unfolds over fifteen years as the sins of the past haunt the present days lives of two high school boys wrestling with the legacy they've inherited. The only refuge is found in the place beyond the pines. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. With an extended tracking shot to open the film, we follow Ryan Gosling, a motorcycle stunt rider, from his trailer through the carnival grounds and right into the metal sphere with his co-riders. It's an exhilarating start to the film and introduces Luke (Gosling) as a heavily tatted star attraction on the carnival circuit.
This is director Derek Cianfrance's follow-up to his 2010 critically acclaimed Blue Valentine. While that film painfully presented the misery of a bad marriage, this latest shows multi-generational fallout from poor decisions and even worse father-son relationships. Cianfrance has quite an eye for well-intentioned, but inadequate personality types. This latest is presented in triptych format ... three distinct story divisions. The first segment is mesmerizing and follows Luke's attempt to "do right" by his newly discovered infant son - the result of last year's carnival trip to this same town and a tryst with Romina, a local gal played by Eva Mendes.
Gosling is especially effective (yet again) as he falls in with local mechanic played by a terrific Ben Mendelsohn (frightening in Animal Kingdom). The two hatch a scheme to capitalize on Luke's bike riding skills by robbing banks. These "jobs" allow us to see the other side of Luke, who seems sincere in his desire to provide for the child and win back Romina. Things go badly when Luke crosses paths with rookie street cop Avery Cross (played by Bradley Cooper). Watching Gosling's contradictory personalities is quite amazing ... he flips from quietly charming to cold-blooded brutal bank robber in the blink of an eye.
The story then shifts to follow Avery and his strained relations with his wife (Rose Byrne), their infant son, and Avery's former state Supreme Court judge father (Harris Yulin). A sub-plot brings in police department corruption led by ... who else? ... Ray Liotta. Mr. Liotta still possesses the ability to scare the crap out of his fellow actors and anyone watching the movie. This corruption and the idealistic and ambitious nature of Avery aren't a very pleasant mixture, but it sets the stage for the final act.
Flashing forward 15 years, brings us to a fairly predictable situation that still proves interesting. The previous stories focused on the failed relationships of Luke and his father, Luke and his mis-fired attempt at being a dad, and the awkwardness of Avery and his father. Now we see the resulting mess that are the two now teenage boys. The sons are played by Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan (who was memorable as Cricket in Lawless). DeHaan especially shines as the Gosling/Mendes prodigy.
Sean Bobbitt is the film's Director of Photography and he deserves special mention for his work with Cianfrance in bringing a different and intimate look to the characters, setting and story. Also, Mike Patton's unusual score fits perfectly and keeps the viewer on track. This is a very uncomfortable movie to watch, but those who enjoy tough, artsy films will be rewarded. www.MovieReviewsFromTheDark.wordpress.com
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