Friday Flicks: Hey Girl, Ryan Gosling Is Back in ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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Ryan Gosling stars in 'The Place Beyond the Pines'

The Place Beyond the Pines

At this point, actor Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance know each other pretty well. They go back seven years and two films: in 2010, the acclaimed Blue Valentine was released  — though Friday Flicks remains convinced it’s not exactly first date material — and now The Place Beyond the Pines is with us. A recent New York Times article revealed that they seemed to be on the same page. Though “they were not exactly finishing each other’s sentences … [they] had clearly settled into an established rhythm.”

Does that established rhythm transfer onto the big screen for a second time? There are three stories in play, taking place over a period of 15 years, starting with Luke (Gosling), a motorcycle stunt rider who reconnects with the mother (Eva Mendes) of his child. Then, we meet Avery (Bradley Cooper), a police officer finding it tough to live his life without the specter of his famous politician father looming large. Finally, the film delves into the aftermath of an event that links Gosling and Cooper’s characters.

The critics aren’t unanimous in their judgment. “My admiration for Cianfrance is all the greater for the melodramatic risks he’s willing to take, whether or not every last one of them pays off,” concludes the Daily Telegraph. “Cianfrance generally shows again that he knows how to build immersive characterizations with his actors,” remarks the Hollywood Reporter. But Variety reminds its readers why, in its opinion, The Place Beyond the Pines isn’t a match for Cianfrance and Gosling’s previous collaboration. “Where Blue Valentine succeeded by laying bare elemental human emotions, then scrambling them in a way that felt daring and fresh, The Place Beyond the Pines internalizes much of what the characters are feeling while telling their stories in rote, linear fashion.” And New York magazine concludes that “this nearly two-and-a-half-hour movie feels as if it spread beyond its borders. The Place Beyond the Pines is like a clear-cut forest, full of empty space.”

MORE: Ryan Gosling Joins Leo and Channing in Actors-Taking-a-Break Club

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