Playing this month on HBO is the compelling “R”-rated drama, The Place Beyond the Pines; starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn and Directed by Derek Cianfrance. When released in 2012, it received critical acclaim and had a respectable run. Currently it is available on DVD & Blu-ray.
Ostensibly, the story starts out being about Luke, (Gosling), a charismatic and nigh-mythical daredevil motorcycle stunt rider who travels with a carnival riding with two other cyclists in a steel “Globe of Death” whizzing along the inside circumference with the other cyclists currently the carny is in Schenectady, New York, where, after his most recent performance, towards the end of the Carny’s run in town, he is approached by Romina (Mendes), with whom he had a tryst the previous year when he was in town on the circuit. He give her a ride home, where he discovers that she has a son, that is his.
Now, he is desperately attempting to connect with his son (Romina is now in a relationship with Kofi (Mahershala Ali), which Luke is having a hard time dealing with, so he winds up hooking up with Robin (Mendelsohn) a sketchy mechanic living on the outskirts of town who turns Luke on to the prospect of knocking over banks. Unfortunately, for Luke, anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and he winds up in a shootout with a newbie patrolman, Avery Cross (Cooper) with deadly results.
Here, then is where the film takes a quick swerve to one side and winds up being quite a different film from what we were expecting. The story now follows officer Cross as he discovers what the makeup of the police department is really made up of, and he attempts to leverage this knowledge in order to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. Next up, the sweeping drama unfolds over skips ahead 15 years where the sins of the past haunt the present days and wind up spilling over into the lives of two high school boys who are now a generation removed from the drama, but are no less damaged because of it.
Make no mistake about it, this film is not quite what you would expect, but that winds up being better and the cast and crew deliver an amazing film that will keep you riveted from the amazing camerawork (Luke gunning his bike through traffic, solid long takes of him walking through a crowd, and the frenetic action as the story unfolds in front of you). Eventually, the only refuge left to be had is found in the place beyond the pines.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing professionally for some 30+ years. He came of age watching TV, reading comicbooks and going to the movies. Subscribe to receive regular articles and reviews about TV programs.