All you need to know about The Place Beyond the Pines is that it's the new Ryan Gosling movie.
OK, just kidding--but let's be honest, it's all anyone will be talking about with this film. Between his face tattoo, bike stunts, and impending pseudo-retirement, there are plenty of ways to hey-girl this new film from director Derek Cianfrance (of Blue Valentine fame). And yes, Gosling gets everything he can out of this performance, providing the high-speed heart and soul to the film and providing a character who we root for regardless of the stupid decisions he makes.
But he's not the whole movie; in fact, The Place Beyond the Pines (out nationwide today) is very much a triptych, where Gosling is the starting point before passing the baton on. It follows the tangled lives of motorcycle stunt performer Luke (played by Gosling)--who travels from town to town before daydreaming of settling down with onetime lover Romina (Eva Mendes) and becoming determined to make fast money to help support her--rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper), and the way that the two men's momentary meeting fundamentally alters everything that comes after.
It's a story about the meaning of right and wrong, the things we trade for leading a better life, and the ties that bind generations--specifically fathers and sons. In other words, it's like Crash meets the The Lion King, only beautifully shot and with a haunting soundtrack that connects each of the three parts together.
Cooper is proving himself a truly leading man, while Gosling will have you wishing that he'd stick around onscreen for just a bit longer. Though you see the ending a mile (or, should we say, 30 minutes) away, there's enough gripping action to keep you on the edge of your seat. And not all heartthrobs can say that.