TIFF 2012 Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

Ryan Gosling and Derek Cianfrance join forces once again since 2010’s Blue Valentine in this multi-generational crime saga.

Channeling another mysterious character like the one he played in Drive, Gosling is Luke, a motorcycle stunt driver who works at a traveling carnival touring from town to town.  After reuniting with his sometimes lover Romina (Eva Mendes), he discovers that he has fathered a son.  Determined to meet the responsibilities of being a father but unable to support a family, Luke decides to rob banks.  A skilled motorcyclist, his ploy appears to run successfully.  But on a heist gone wrong, he becomes the target of a rookie cop named Avery (Bradley Cooper).  And as a result, the confrontation determines his fate.

Without wanting to reveal too much, Gosling’s perfectly reckless and unsympathetic character only appears in the first part of the film.  But handing off the rest of the story to Cooper, the film is not any less captivating.  As guilt continues to build up from the events of his past, Cooper delivers one of his best performances to date as a cop torn between his ambitions and the need to serve justice.

Even the supporting characters such as Ben Medelsohn’s good-natured accomplice and Ray Liotta’s dirty cop offer admirable performances.  However, the real star in the making is Dane DeHaan, who brilliantly plays Jason, the vengeful teenage son of Gosling’s character.

Split into three parts, The Place Beyond the Pines is a crime thriller about legacy. As the story goes from generation to generation, it no doubt takes surprising turns even though it feels slow at times.

But despite its lengthy two hours and 20 minutes, the film is good for character study. Taking an interesting look at themes such as guilt, revenge and justice, the performances coupled with Cianfrance’s unique approach to directing is worth a watch.

Some notes and photos from the Toronto premiere: 

  • During the Q&A portion after the film’s premiere at TIFF, Derek Cianfrance said he was inspired to make the film before his son Cody was born.  Pondering about what kind of father he was going to be, Cianfrance starting thinking about the legacies his father and grandfather had left for him.  Not wanting his son to have “the fire” he felt from both his father and grandfather (which I can only assume means anger and resentment as he wasn’t very clear), Cianfrance decided one day that he wanted to make a film about legacy and becoming a father.

  • Filmed in Schenectady, New York, Cianfrance says, “The Place Beyond the Pines is the translation of Schnectady in Iroquois.” His wife, was also born and raised in Schnectady.

  • Like a lot of females who love Ryan Gosling, a woman went out of her way to give the actor a Canadian hockey cap. TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey said it was “exactly what Ryan is looking for.”

  • Talking about the structure of the film that goes from character to character, Cianfrance says he was always interested in Psycho, which also switches its focus from Janet Leigh’s character to Anthony Perkins’. “I wanted to make that movie that had that kind of hand-off.  That’s why casting Avery was really challenging.  And when I met Bradley, it had to be him because I couldn’t think of another person who could take that baton.”
  • Cianfrance also mentioned that he had to watch auditions by 500 guys until he cast youngsters Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen.  “I feel very blessed for the entire cast.  It’s such an honour for me to work with everyone on this stage,” he said.

  • On talking about playing his role, Bradley Cooper joked that the film was probably the last thing  he would ever do as an actor. “Killing Ryan Gosling in a movie, my God. I really thought I was going to fire my agent just even thinking about it.”
  •  Nonetheless, the role was important for him because he had wanted to work with Cianfrance after seeing Blue Valentine.

  • In more Ryan Gosling happenings, the actor said robbing a bank was always a fantasy (cue laughter).  But when he went in to actually film his scenes, he said the people at the bank weren’t scared but just really excited to be in a movie.  Upon remembering the 15 takes he had to do to perfect the scene in which he robs a bank, Ryan laments, “It was hard.”

But despite Ryan’s experience working on the film, he wasn’t short of praises from women in the audience. When he was about to answer a question about his role, a woman yelled, “You’re sexy!”  to which he cheekily said, “That’s not part of it!”

Another woman, proclaimed how “incredibly sexy” Ryan’s tattoos were in the movie.  When she asked him what tattoos he would get in real life, Ryan replied that he would get a tattoo of Ron and Jim, who both worked on the film.

But despite all the love from the ladies, Ryan was the classy Canadian boy he truly is.  Giving long and extended answers, he made sure to thank the cast and crew of the movie for doing such a good job.


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