Three years after Blue Valentine officially became the worst date movie of all time, Derek Cianfrance returns with this crime drama about fathers and sons, cops and robbers and fate and destiny.
The Place Beyond The Pines opens with a purposely pervy shot of Gosling's tattooed torso and follows him as he suits up with his red leather jacket and heads to work performing tricks for a traveling state fair. Shortly after his shift he's visited by his ex-girlfriend (Eva Mendes) who reveals he is the father of her son; a revelation that convinces him to quit his day job and stay in town to care for his son who already has a father figure in Kofi (Mahershala Ali). Naturally a 9-to-5 job isn't quite good enough for a man with tears tattooed on his face so with the help of slippery bastard Robin Van Der Zee (Ben Mendelsohn), he starts robbing banks despite having a pathetic panicky shriek that wouldn't intimidate a hamster. And this is where Bradley Cooper's rookie cop, Avery Cross, gets involved.
Details of this film have been cleverly hidden and rightly so, because The Place Beyond The Pines isn't what you think it is. From the outset Cianfrance makes it clear he's gonna take his sweet-ass time and he continues to do so for the entire 140 minute running time - this baby is a slow burner. However the most surprising thing about this film isn't the third act U-turn or that Ryan Gosling is actually capable of looking unattractive; the most shocking thing is how Bradley Cooper - a man who made his name being a wise-cracking arsehole with fabulous hair and even better abs - completely carries the thing. After Silver Linings Playbook and with The Hangover Part III on the way I assumed B. Coop (I hate myself for typing that) would go back to his lightweight comedy days but nope, he's all serious and shit. I like it.
At times The Place Beyond The Pines drags due to it crumbling under the weight of its own self-importance but Cianfrance's ambition and directorial talents, along with a standout performance from Cooper, shine through to make this one of those must-see, polarizing movies you'll be arguing about for days.