Gosling shines in new indie flick

By Anna Spiewak, Contributing Entertainment Editor

Ryan Gosling enters the press interview room listening to music by Prince on his cell phone, which gets a chuckle from the group of journalists about to interview him about his groundbreaking role in the new indie flick “The Place beyond the Pines” that opened in theatres March 29.

The scruffy-faced young heartthrob, clad in khakis, T-shirt and dark jacket is very happy with himself that he got a few chuckles as he sits down at the only empty seat left next to this reporter around a roundtable of journalists. He is trim, demure with a set of crystal, almost see-through blue eyes. He’s got a laid-back, don’t give a damn attitude. The 32-year-old who supposedly is not keen on interviews, is in rather good spirits that day. And he has every right to be. His performance as Luke in Derek Cianfrance’s new emotional drama about the intricate relationships and unbreakable bonds between fathers and sons, and about legacies, has been called “electric” by the press and his best work to date.

Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt performer traveling with a carnival through Schenectady, upstate New York, where he runs into Romina, or as he calls her “Ro,” a fling from a year ago, played by Eva Mendes (Gosling’s main squeeze in real life). His character is the silent type that what he doesn’t articulate verbally, speaks volumes with his appearance: platinum blond hair, ripped shirt, tattooed from head to toe, a broken man. Then he unexpectedly finds out he’s a dad and his entire life changes. He quits the carnival and chooses to stay local to be close to his baby son and Romina. Since his local menial job doesn’t help support his offspring, he is talked into a life of crime by his employer Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), and starts robbing banks. And so the film’s three-part sequence unfolds.

“He’s in a motorcycle version of a boy band in the early 90’s, doing some low-level carnival circuit, it doesn’t get any worse than that. He’s a melting pot of every masculine cliché: tattoos, muscles, guns, it’s a joke,” said Gosling of his character during the interview. “Then he finds out he has this child that he didn’t know he had, and a mirror is held up to him, and he realizes that he’s not a man at all, because none of those things make you a man. He realizes he’s a completely surfaced person without any depth, and there’s a tremendous amount of shame. And in the same way that he over-romanticized himself and created his own mythology, he has the same romantic ideas of turning it around.”

One poignant scene in the film is when his baby son, Jason, is being Baptized in church by his mother, and her new boyfriend. As Luke spies on this occurrence, the camera zooms in on his face and we see a well of raw emotion exude. This is one of Gosling’s shining moments in the film. And according to the director, it all came from the actor.

“It was not expected, it just happened, because of all of his choices, because of the great shame that (his character) felt, because of the regret he felt; because of walking into this place and not being able to fit in. All of a sudden this guy had this history of bad choices after bad choices, and that’s what’s kept him apart from everyone. He can’t be a part of the world. He’s always going to be an outsider. He’s always going to be scarred, there’s no way to get rid of that,” said director Derek Cianfrance, adding that Gosling is probably a sensitive man, since he was able to evoke a similar emotion during their filming together of Oscar nominated “Blue Valentine.”

Through one of the final bank robbery acts, the film switches protagonists and we are introduced to Avery (Bradley Cooper) who plays a young married cop with a son of his own, who chooses to fight crime in Schenectady after graduating law school rather than sit in a courtroom. Avery’s confrontation with Luke affects his entire life, both professionally and personally, causing an internal struggle within him. The third and final sequence of the film fast forwards 15 years later, when both sons grow up and deal with the consequences and legacies of their fathers. Avery’s son AJ (Emery Cohen) is the physical proverbial bully, while Luke’s son Jason (Dane DeHaan) is the introverted brooding rebel.

“(Romina) over parented (Jason) and then when he became a teenager, she decided to let go,” said Eva Mendes of her character, who ages significantly on the screen. “When we see Romina those 15 years later, there’s sense of her throwing up her hands in the air, holding on to her alliance to Luke, which was really beautiful.”

Director Cianfrance’s wife hails from Schenectady, which in Iroquois translates to “the place beyond the pines.” What starts out as an indie flick, quickly transforms into a suspense drama, holding the audience captivated through the entire two-hour duration of the film. “The Place Beyond the Pines” is currently playing in select theatres.

More information on the film: http://focusfeatures.com/the_place_beyond_the_pines

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