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Place beyond the Pines review

Cinema fanatics will look to Oblivion and Iron Man 3 as the blockbuster films to see. That much is true-Oblivion is a fine above competent sci-fi thriller. However, for audiences that are curious as to how Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper fare in this crime drama of actions and consequences well look no further. Despite having a limited release in the UK, Place Beyond the Pines is a stunning film.

Luke Glanton (Gosling) is a maverick daredevil cyclist performing at circus like events across America.  While in Schenectady (New York), he is briefly reunited with an old flame Romina (Eva Mendes) only to find out inadvertently before he leaves that she gave birth to his son a year prior. Now with a new man and home, Luke takes it upon himself to provide for his son Jason. After finding some work, Luke is swayed by his employer that to make more money he should put his cycling skills to proper use and use it for robbing banks. As Luke becomes more relentless in his desire to provide for Jason, Police Officer Avery Cross (Brad Cooper) is swiftly on his tail for some dramatic results.

The film boasting a modest budget and release somehow does not reflect its stature. The film is well made, shot and the actors are on fire here. Gosling and Cooper pull off memorable performances in which they both contrast of each other yet remain in some form of common ground. Having a focus on breakneck motorcycle sequences for half of the film is breathtaking. Shot with venom, these scenes are orchestrated by the Batman stunt driver Rick Miller and they do not disappoint.

The film acts as two halves with one being distinctly lighter than the other. The first half is excellent-sombre and touching. The second remains largely the same but is much darker, psychological but relevant all the same. Place beyond the Pines comes in a month where two CGI epics will mostly dominate the proceedings yet for anyone curious about how Gosling fares in this film after Drive will not be disappointed. Same goes for Cooper who punches well above his weight here.

If I was to have a criticism for the film it is perhaps that it gets a little overdrawn and unrepentantly dark to the end. Some films, I like happy endings or some form of justice. This well..-you get neither. You do get a full circle of sorts ending which is still excellent but I cannot help but feel a lighter second act may have benefited a bit better. Still, this is minor and mostly irrelevant. Its a great watch no matter how I nor anyone else dresses it up.

If you can find somewhere in the UK that shows this film then I recommend the film wholeheartedly. It is a different kind of beast to Gosling’s last action film Drive but this is a film that punches well above what it should be doing. Gosling is on fire here and Only God Forgives cannot come soon enough.

A brilliant if sometimes uncompromising watch. Place Beyond the Pines is a film that does not deserve in any way  a limited release in the UK as the film is easily one of the films of the year. *****

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