This review was originally published in my weekly column at Towleroad
The opening shot from THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, is a stunner. And not only because it starts with a view of a well-muscled and inked masculine torso. The camera follows the man (we don't see his face) as he paces back and forth, plays with a knife and then walks through a fairground where he turns heads and prompts amateur snapshots. Finally the camera catches his face. It's "Handsome Luke" (Ryan Gosling), a daredevil motorcylist about to defy death and gravity in a round metal cage. As soon as we've seen 'Handsome Gosling,' though, Luke throws a motorcyle helmet on depriving us of his Movie Star mug and enters the cage to perform miraculous stunts. As I recall there aren't any edits in this shot and I have no idea how it was filmed unless Ryan Gosling moonlights as a stuntman in addition to his many many other talents (like naming his body parts, and inspiring hilarious fandom and popular internet memes).
This lengthy continuous shot with its 'now you see him, now you don't' movie-star tease is a pretty apt description of the movie to come which is something of a bait-and-switch with a prominent throughline. [more]