The Seamy Side of
If you are entirely too cheerful right now, “A Place Beyond the Pines” will alter that in the course of two and a half hours.
Writer-director Derek Cianfrance seems preoccupied with the seamy side of life.
Most recently his “Blue Valentine” was a searing story of a marriage going wrong. That movie starred Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a blue collar couple trying to keep love alive, but failing.
Gosling is back as another blue collar kind of guy named Luke Blanton, who is a professional daredevil stunt motorcycle rider with a traveling carnival. We see Luke woozily acknowledge the command “Show Time,” fire up another cigarette, wade through the crowd to his dirt bike, and fire it up to ride into a steel mesh ball with two other riders who speed like maniacs in every direction, missing each other by inches.
After the show Luke stops by to see Romina (Eva Mendes), a woman he had a one-night stand with the last time he passed through.
Ro, as he calls her is none too happy to see him. She has an infant son, Luke’s, and a new boyfriend (Mahershala Ali) who allows Ro, her son Jason and her mother to live in his house.
When Luke is unable to seduce Ro back into his arms, Luke impulsively quits the carnival and falls in with another low-life. Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) runs a small car repair shop and has a trailer where Luke can bunk. When Luke complains about not making enough money working as part-time mechanic, Robin tells him he used to rob banks, and was pretty good at it.
It doesn’t take great imagination to see where this is going. Granted, “
has plenty of thrills and chills, but you know it is heading for a bad place.
The story is actually in three acts. The first is about Luke, Ro and their baby.
In act two Schenectady Police Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) makes his entrance for a first
and final confrontation with Luke.
Cross becomes a big-deal police hero, and he uses his status to his advantage.
There is something rotten in
Schenectady (Mohawk for “A Place Beyond the
Pines”) and it centers in the Police Department, which includes the
ever-reliable Ray Liotta as the menacing, smiling special investigation cop Deluca.
The sins of the father are visited to the sons it says in the Old Testament and Shakespeare. Chapter three concerns Jason (Dane DeHaan), the son of the late Luke, and AJ Cross (Emery Cohen), son of Avery Cross. Let’s just say they have not turned out very well.
There is a certain sense of satisfaction, resolution and redemption in these tawdry intertwining tales, and it may haunt you for awhile. Fair warning: feel-good it is not.