Blue Valentine

It May Star Gosling As a Stunt Rider, But ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ Is Far Stranger Than ‘Drive’

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Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines opens with a long, weary tracking shot through a carnival midway and into a raucous tent, where motorcycles are revved and an announcer cranks up the crowded assemblage of looky-loos. The camera is following Luke (Ryan Gosling), a stunt rider, who proceeds to climb on top of a motorcycle and follow two of his fellow riders into a steel ball, where they cross within inches of each others’ paths. The audience goes nuts. But the camerawork is casual, almost bored; this doesn’t do it for Luke anymore. It’s as dull and uninspiring as working in a cubicle.
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Director Derek Cianfrance on ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ and the Magic of Ryan Gosling

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It’s tricky to talk to Derek Cianfrance about his new film The Place Beyond the Pines, due to a series of bold narrative turnabouts that would fall squarely into the realm of “spoilers.” I explained my hesitancy to him in a recent telephone interview. “It’s challenging for reviewers,” he grants. “You can’t just go and spend two-thirds of your review describing plot – unless you hate the movie. The reviewers that hate the movie have no problem… they’re excited to go out there and crush it for people.” I don’t hate the movie, and I don’t want to crush it for people. Suffice it to say that it starts as one thing, and then unexpectedly becomes another, and then something else entirely. That seems a safe way to put it — and for Cianfrance to explain how he arrived at the picture’s unique “triptych” structure.
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