I keep coming back to The Place Beyond the Pines, but it was the movie that defined the Toronto International Film Festival for me. More than once, I heard the director Derek Cianfrance describe his ambitious and moving film as a movie about "legacy" and how "sometimes you're born into a world with all of these repercussions that people have made before you" and "have to fight and claw to get out of that." Judging from the features and documentaries I saw during my short stay in Toronto, these ideas of legacy and the sins of our fathers — whether they're our literal or institutional fathers — are weighing heavily on America's collective psyche.
Perhaps this theme resonated with me because I am a father — the sins come with the territory — but after a decade of terrorism, war and economic turmoil, I think that, on a larger psychological scale, even a nice chunk of the 1 percent are freaked about how America's recent past will affect its future, and that insecurity has seeped into a lot of the art that will be seeing over the next few months.
The Place Beyond The Pines, which Focus Features will release in 2013, is essentially about how a fateful encounter between two fathers — one a stunt motorcyclist (Ryan Gosling) who has turned to crime to support his son; the other, a cop (Bradley Cooper), who has his own daddy issues, carries over into the next generation. I'm oversimplifying the plot, a good portion of which needs to stay under wraps for optimum dramatic impact, but, in the last third of the movie, Cianfrance creates a remarkable amount of tension around the question of whether the sons…