The Place Beyond the Pines finds Ryan Gosling re-teaming with his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance for a striking drama about fathers and sons. Gosling plays Handsome Luke (yes, he's even dubbed a heartthrob by the announcer at the carnival for which he does motorcycle stunts), a guy from the wrong side of the tracks who finds out he has a baby with an old fling, Romina (Eva Mendes). Luke's discovery and subsequent foray into robbing banks in a misguided attempt to provide for his family would be enough fodder for a whole movie, but The Place Beyond the Pines takes a sharp turn with the entrance of Avery (Bradley Cooper), a well-to-do cop who has a run-in with Luke while on call. Almost immediately, the film becomes Avery's story until the final third when it picks up 15 years later. It's an unorthodox format, but the risk pays off.
The way the film is laid out is one of its most unexpected and potentially polarising elements, as viewers expecting to see Cooper and Gosling share a lot of screen time will be disappointed. Though technically it could be described as a crime thriller, it's really a story about a robber, then a story about a cop, then a story about their kids. Once you get past how jarring the format can be, The Place Beyond the Pines is pretty remarkable. To find out what else I think of the movie, just read more.