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Times of India
A daredevil motorcycle rider resorts to robbing banks to support his newborn son and lover. It is a decision that proves to have major consequences.
It's the opening, retro-cool extended tracking shot where Luke (Ryan Gosling) gets ready for his daredevil biking act that first gets you. The camera follows him from his trailer to the Big Top, where two other riders await him. They go about their act, eliciting gasps of awe, before the frame ends. It's like a metaphor for the entire movie. Separate lives, yet intertwined in an intricately-constructed ride.
His former lover, Romina (Eva Mendes) walks into his life again. Soon, Luke finds out Romina's got a baby son. Sincere to a fault, he quits his act and embarks on a tag team bank robbery spree with grimy backwoods mechanic Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). All of this, so he can buy stuff for his baby and hand Romina wads of dollar bills. Although never too far from his dirt bike, he loves his role as father and provider.
The second 'act' of the movie belongs to Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a cop-with-a-conscience who stays away from histrionics. A collision with Luke becomes inevitable. Stone-faced Deluca (Ray Liotta) is the dirty cop played to perfection.
While the only weak link is Avery's kid AJ Cross (Emory Cohen), Dane DeHaan (Luke and Romina's teenage son, Jason) is someone to watch out for. Essentially three films cohesively segued into one, the narrative's complexity never once becomes overwrought.
An ambitious film, Cianfrance aims for higher ground, and gets there with ease. Ryan Gosling's act gives method acting a new meaning - it is elegance in itself. And incidentally, the English translation of the Mohawk word Schenectady (the town where the movie unfolds), is 'the place beyond the pines'.
You will not like this film if you don't like dramatic movies about inter-connected lives.