The night began with a little celebrity-fueled silliness. As Ryan Gosling arrived at the Princess of Wales Theater in Toronto for the premiere of his latest picture, The Place Beyond The Pines, a crowd of eager fans barged across traffic-stalled King Street to swarm the object of their affection. But once Gosling's second film with filmmaker Derek Cianfrance — they made the remarkably pure heartbreaker Blue Valentine together — got started, it was clear that the two friends and a remarkable cast that included Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn had made a seriously good movie.
As Cianfrance told the crowd afterward, the movie "is about legacy — about being a father." Gosling plays a stunt motorcyclist who turns to bank-robbing out of sense of responsibility to a child he fathered; his performance is so indelible that you don't forget him once he's left the screen. The remarkable thing is that Cianfrance — who said during the Q&A that the structure of the film was inspired by Psycho — gets Bradley Cooper, who plays a Schenectady, NY cop with adjustable morals, to pick up the baton and carry the movie before handing it off to Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen, who both give memorable performances as the sons, respectively, of Gosling's and Cooper's characters. Indeed, there are so many strong performances in this movie — Mendelsohn is also a standout — that the Academy could have a tough time figuring out who to honor with a nomination.
Cianfrance told the crowd that he actually began writing the film before Blue Valentine in 2007 when he was in the process of becoming a father for the second time. "I was thinking a lot about becoming a father again [and remembering that] I had a fire in me." Sometimes, Cianfrance said, "it had helped" and "sometimes it destroyed things." Thinking about the son he was expecting, the director said: "I didn't want him to have the fire."
The Place Beyond The Pines is all about that fire and it leaves a searing impression, though there were some light moments during the Q&A. At the very end of the evening, after Gosling politely brushed off compliments about his sexiness and the tattoos he wears in the film, a woman in the balcony screamed, "Ryan I'm pregnant!"
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