Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" was one of the most anticipated films of the Toronto International Film Festival and, meeting lofty expectations, the film made a big splash this weekend in Canada's largest city. Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, Ben Mendelsohn and standout newcomer Emory Cohen, reviews of 'Pines' were largely glowing (you can read our A-grade review here), a bidding war for the North Amercan rights started almost immediately and the the film finally landed in the arms of Focus Features.
But in case you thought this is going to majorly throw a wrench in the 2012 Oscar race, guess again. We spoke to the "Blue Valentine" filmmaker this weekend and he confirmed that Focus is going to hold onto the picture for 2013. "It's pretty fantastic," Cianfrance said of the newly-announced acquisition. "It's going to come out next year. We're not sure when though. It's all part of the negotiations and decision making process. There's a lot to think about."
"It's kind of a dream to wind up with them," Cianfrance said of Focus Features in Toronto later in the day at an IndieWIRE-hosted chat that we also attended. "I've had a lot of respect for the films they've made. Also James Schamus [the head of Focus], not only they've made and distributed, but the films that he's written ["The Ice Storm," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"] and I'm honored to be part of their slate."
Cianfrance joked that Schamus said legendary screenwriting teacher Robert Mckee would have not sanctioned the picture and would have been very angry at Focus because it "broke all of the screenwriting rules" (the picture is sprawling and a bit unorthodox in its telling). 2013 probably is a smart idea for Focus as they already have "Hyde On Hudson Park," Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," "Anna Karenina" and the Gus Van Sant/Matt Damon picture "Promised Land" as potential Oscar contenders this year.
Centering on a motorcycle stunt rider (Gosling) who considers committing a crime in order to provide for his wife and child, an act that puts him on a collision course with a cop-turned-politician (Bradley Cooper), that's really just the tip of the iceberg. Featuring three different stories, in our interview Cianfrance said early on, producers who had read the script told him he should cross-cut the story and mix it up like Alejandro González Iñárritu's interconnected drama "Babel."
But the "Blue Valentine" director insisted as the picture is about legacy and lineage, it had to be told in a linear fashion. "Detractors from the script from five years ago said to me, 'Have you seen 'Babel?' Cianfrance recalled about the push to intercut the story. "I love 'Babel,' but I've seen it and this is a story about lineage so I think it needs to be linear. Also the idea of having an experience in a movie theater where you experience…"
Cianfrance trailed off not wanting to spoil the main twists in the film, but said, "to deal with death in a real way in a movie and not to have the security of a flashback or a cut to go back. Because death is permanent and there's a great absence and a great void afterwards."
The rest of us who have not seen the picture (most of us) cannot wait. "The Place Beyond The Pines" comes out TBD 2013. We're hoping we don't have to wait until Oscar season next year, but that may be the appropriate time for it. — Interview by Kevin Jagernauth