I took in The Place Beyond the Pines last night at a screening at AMC 20 in Leawood, KS. The film is released in Kansas City on April 12, showing at Glenwoods Arts, Tivoli Cinemas and AMC 20.

In the 1980s, a carnival motorcycle stunt man, Hansome Luke (), makes his year visit to Schenectady, New York with the carnival and accidentally discovers he has an infant child with Romina (), a woman he had met the previous year while the carnival was in town. Growing up without a father himself, Luke vows to stay in Schenectady to care for his child. Luke soon learns he cannot make a sufficient living and turns to robbing banks.

Luke soon encounters a good, young cop, Avery (Bradley Cooper), who is stuck in the middle of a police department controlled by a corrupt detective (Ray Liotta).

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), The Place Beyond the Pines is beautifully shot with much added drama and tension created by the cinematography. On the longer side, though necessary, The Place Beyond the Pines essentially tells three separate stories, with the main characters changing throughout and over a span on 17+ years, with all stories relating and focusing back to Avery’s pursuit of Luke.

With only a $15m budget, every penny in the budget was spent perfectly, with big names, perfect cinematography and a great story.

I love seeing major stars in lower budget (yes, $15 is fairly small) films to go along with the big budget blockbusters and Gosling and Cooper do it perfectly year in and year out, each with a nice resume of fantastic lower budget films.

Fun Fact: Much of the filming for this movie was done on location in Schenectady, New York. The title comes from the name of the city of Schenectady, which is the Mohawk word for “beyond the pine plains.”

Here is a great interview by Russ Simmons with Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes – Chatting about “The Place Beyond the Pines”

Recommendation: If you’re a fan of high drama, don’t miss The Place Beyond the Pines in the theater, otherwise, it is well worth a Redbox rental for any movie fan.

Rating: 8/10