The Place Beyond the Pines features a whole lot of Ryan Gosling. He’s got an understated style of acting, but it’s nothing compared to Peter Weller’s straight-faced portrayal of Alex Murphy in RoboCop. Weller spent four months with a mime from Juilliard to get into his role; I don’t think Gosling put himself through anything nearly as rigorous.
TPBtP has pretty lofty goals as it spans a fairly long timeline, has many important characters, and wants to portray several traumatic events from different viewpoints. This makes for a great first two acts, but the third one is much weaker. It might be the child actors, it could be the emotional jumps the characters make, but it’s most likely due to the lack of real issues – I’m talking about becoming a cyborg. When Murphy’s old persona starts to wake up and bleed through all those wires, he has to reconcile his new body and responsibilities with his old mind and memories. Some kids in Long Island with parent troubles? Save it.
Eva Mendes is convincing as a woman who cries a whole lot, but it’s a shame to see that she never signs up for the police force.