A romantic title that spins a trilogy of stunning believability; structurally perfect, intrinsically flawed; grossly thought-provoking; fervently strong commencement, weakens as it progresses but not enough to maim the entertainment value.
Ryan Gosling, staggeringly fine in his portrayal of “Luke” a circus performer, whose virtuoso on a motorcycle matches the wizardly of the tattoo masters who have referenced every artistic “ism” of the last hundred years on his lean, taut body. There is something poetic about Luke’s quest to provide for his son; a son he recently discovers, by ex-girlfriend “Romina” (grand, poignant performance by Eva Mendes); Luke is a misfit, uneducated, devoid of choices, struggling with his vicissitudes; tragically the “Luke’s” of the world are pervasive; their stories are flaunted in the news everyday.
Bradley Cooper as “Avery”, a lawyer turned law enforcer is the focus of the second part of the isosceles triangle; a complex man vacillating between vulnerability and heroism. Cooper is terrific in portraying a man grappling with, compromising the “gray” areas of his life. He too has a son the same age as Luke’s.
Finally, after a fifteen year hiatus the third part of the trinity; the progeny of Luke and Avery, meet in high school; both boys are quasi-annoying, shiftless and incapable of capturing or cementing the viewer’s empathy or sympathy.
Director, Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”) poses the ubiquitous, ageless dilemma; the moral equivalent of “the sins of the father”, “apple/tree” idioms; vagueness, uncertainty leave the audience wondering where these young men will be in fifteen years; a “place beyond the pines”? Or trapped, imprisoned, floundering in the forest?
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!