With Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance established himself as a director of intense emotion and unblinking intimacy. In this, his highly anticipated follow-up, Cianfrance re-teams with his Blue Valentine star Ryan Gosling and delves even deeper into themes of male anxiety and suppressed violence. This haunting, multi-generational family drama draws a portrait of contemporary masculinity that is detailed, epic and true.
Gosling plays Luke, a motorcycle stunt rider and habitual loner who works for a travelling carnival, roaming from town to town. After reuniting with his sometime girlfriend Romina (Eva Mendes), Luke discovers that he has fathered a son. Determined to meet his responsibility but unable to support a family, Luke opts to start robbing banks. On one heist he draws the pursuit of rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper). It proves a fateful confrontation.
The Place Beyond the Pines works beautifully as a crime thriller, but Cianfrance goes further. As the story proceeds and turns surprising corners, it evolves into a study of vengeance, memory and fate. And as Cianfrance deepens the mastery of mood and tone he displayed in Blue Valentine, his film exerts an intoxicating pull.
Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival