In The Place Beyond the Pines, Ryan Gosling is Luke. He's a carnival star and motorcycle stuntman. When his show hits one of its yearly stops, Luke learns he's the father of a baby boy from a one-night stand a year earlier. Determined to be a father to his child, Luke bags life in the fast lane.
He tries hard to woo the boy's mother, Eva Mendes' Romina, but she's living semi-happily with another man. Since Luke's mechanic skills don't bring in much business, he and a friend rob banks so Luke can support the child.
The end of act one leads Luke to act two and a deadly confrontation with Bradley Cooper's Avery. He's a lawyer-turned-cop who via the robberies lands on the wrong side of some corrupt colleagues. Act three is about the results of what Luke and Avery did in a confrontation after one of the bank robberies.
The acting is superb. In dark dramas, Gosling does what he does best, a stoic character. Cooper evolves from guilt personified to self-absorbed. He's an exceptional actor who excels at both. The supporting cast, too, is up to the task.
The plot is not.
Director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance's film starts well. It's complex, has a gritty, violent side to it and is very well done. Acts one and two are pretty good. Two out of three is a great average in baseball but not in the movies. By the time Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) gets to the third act, it's a soap opera -- not a very good one.
The Place Beyond the Pines
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Bruce Greenwood, Ben Mendelsohn
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars
Rated R for violence, language, brief nudity, mature themes. It's playing at the Carmike 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.