Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Review - The Place Beyond The Pines (2013)

Starring Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and Bradley Cooper.
Directed by Derek Cianfrance.

From the director that brought us one of the most depressing movies about relationship 'Blue Valentine', Cianfrance teams up with Ryan Gosling again to bring us The Place Beyond The Pines. We meet the character Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling); a motorcycle stuntman who works in a travelling fair. He meets up with an old girlfriend Romina (Eva Mendes) and finds out that she has a son for him. Despite Romina already being involved in a relationship, Luke decides to stay in town and be a part of his son's life. Teaming up with a friend Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), Luke turns to robbing banks as a means of support until one day, his heist goes terribly wrong and Luke is killed.

The Place Beyond The Pines took a surprising turn for me. I thought the movie would have been centered on Ryan Gosling's character but it didn't. However the events that followed in the rest of the movie are directly and indirectly related to Gosling's character. What I admired was how this movie was able to smoothly transition and focus now on Bradley Cooper's character - Avery Cross. Avery Cross is a family man and he is the police officer responsible for Luke Glanton's death. We get to learn about him, his family and his peers. Like Ryan Gosling's character before, you are able to connect with Cooper's character and you can feel his remorse for the death. After Cross has some unfortunate run-ins with his own police department, the movie then jumps 15 years into the future where it now focuses on two teenage boys - who happens to be Luke and Avery's sons.

Basically the film is pretty much divided into three parts/acts, all with relations to one another but focused on each main character. The first act focuses on Ryan Gosling's character. The second act on Bradley Cooper and the third act on their sons - mainly Jason Glanton (Dane Dehaan). The central theme throughout is family; we see Luke and Avery do what they can for their family, and in the last act, we see the outcome of this interesting tale. Although it is primarily centered around family life, the first and second acts evolve into interesting crime epics as well. In the third act we are introduced to their misfit sons (Dane Dehaan and Emory Cohen) who are drowned in teen angst, unruly behavior and somewhat severed family relations.

I like the direction this movie headed in and I admire its ambitious structure of story-telling but I felt the third act was its biggest downfall. The second act of the film could have easily been used as a subplot but the director decided to just run with it and it flowed nicely (instead of having the narratives run hand in hand). The movie keeps you focused on the characters by the tension built and the long running time was never an issue. However, I felt like all that tension and build-up was wasted in the final act. Unfortunately Dane Dehaan and Emory Cohen was not able to carry this final act to an even remotely soothing conclusion. It was flat, predictable, and I was left unsatisfied.

The acting was solid overall, although no one really stood out for me. I applaud Derek Cianfrance's effort nonetheless. I felt like I watched 3 movies in 1 but a disappointing final act made the Place Beyond The Pines seem timid.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movies Also Watched:

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Another bloody and crappy horror remake that was written by idiots. - 2/10

21 Grams (2003)
A uniquely structured, atmospheric thriller that demands your attention and is quite rewarding. - 9.5/10

My Own Private Idaho (1991)
Gus Van Sant's interesting take on friendship and prostitution, based loosely on the Shakespearean play. - 7.5/10

Persona (1966)
Ingmar Bergman's enthralling psychological masterpiece. - 10/10

The Escapist (2008)
A uniquely structured and fun prison escape. - 8/10

The Killing (1956)
An engaging, uniquely structured, well written heist movie with fun characters. - 10/10


  1. No doubt that the cast is great, but everything else feels like it could have lived-up to it's potential. By the end, the story begins to get weak and seem to fighting for anything it can find to make sense. Good review Shawna.

    1. Thanks Dan! Started strong and faded towards the end.

  2. Good review! I really liked this one however I can't help but be a tiny bit disappointed by it. I think it is trying to handle way too much BUT it is still one of the best films I have seen so far this year.

    1. Thanks Erik. Still a very watchable film, I would recommend it.