Being fully aware that he is not just another pretty boy actor, but can in fact deliver the goods, Cianfrance enlisted hot A-lister actor Ryan Gosling again, this time to headline 'The Place Beyond The Pines', alongside another hot A-lister, Bradley Cooper (the heat still evident from his recent Oscar nominated box office hit movie, 'Silver Linings Playbook' and what will surely be one of this summer's biggest money makers, 'The Hangover Part 3') in essentially what is a double header. The story itself is told in a grand epic style and actually crosses generations, spanning over 17 years. Though crime is featured quite strongly in the tale, it is not the heart and soul of the film. The theme that resonates the most is that of fathers and sons and choices made that can be life changing, in both good and bad ways.
Without giving the plot away, Luke does indeed rob banks, but this illegal activity brings hime across the path of Avery Cross (played by Bradley Cooper), a uniformed police officer who also has an infant son. It is at this point of the film that the story centres on Bradley Cooper's character. Through his dealings with Glanton (Gosling), Cross is wounded on duty and hailed as a hero, even though he himself knows himself not to be one. An interesting twist is made when he comes into contact with several crooked cops including a particularly menacing type played by Ray Liotta ('Goodfellas'). As soon as he appeared on screen I just knew he was going to be trouble, with a capital T. Of late Liotta seems to be the go-to guy when Hollywood need a convincing crooked cop! This section of the film reminded me of the classic New York cop corruption movies made by the late, great Sidney Lumet, 'Serpico' and 'Prince Of The City'.
After much drama over the pangs of conscience going on with Avery Cross (Cooper), this epic tale (which runs at 140 minutes) jumps 15 years and we see the baby sons of the main characters now fully grown teenagers crossing paths. Neither have any knowledge that their fathers did exactly the same thing to tragic consequences. Their relationship, amongst other things throws up feelings of anguish that connect directly to their fathers, and their own feelings towards their fathers. The script allowed the questions of how we feel and react, as well as connect to people and situations (sometimes out of our control) to rise to the surface. The film was beautifully shot and the action sequences (especially the bank robberies) had me gripped to my seat. 'The Place Beyond The Pines' (which is what the town Schenectady means in the Mohawk language) is a drama with heart and class.