‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ Movie Review
Derek Cianfrance’s returns this week with a brand new film The Place Beyond The Pines. I loved his previous film, Blue Valentine, so much that I couldn’t wait to see Cianfrance’s return behind the screen.
The Place Beyond The Pines follows Luke Luke (Ryan Gosling), a high-wire motorcycle stunt performer who travels from town to town with the carnival he is part of. As the film begins he find himself in Schenectady in upstate New York, where he tries to reconnect with his former lover, Romina (Eva Mendes), only to find out she birthed him a son, Jason, whom he didn’t know anything about until now.
Luke decides to stick around and get to know his son. He takes up a job as a car mechanic, but he soon starts on a series of bank robberies helped by his boss, Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). And this eventually puts him in the path of cop rookie cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).
Avery has his own struggles to deal with, namely corrupt detective Deluca (Ray Liotta), who could bring him down. And then there is his family life with his wife Jennifer (Rose Byrne) and their son AJ.
Avery and Luke’s confrontation will yield consequences long after that neither could have guessed.
Derek Cianfrance has a sensibility that few directors have when it comes to his films. Blue Valentine was a clear example of that, but he once again brings his distinct vision to The Place Beyond The Pines. While the story and structure are completely different from his previous film, his vision can still be felt and I think that’s what makes The Place Beyond The Pines such an interesting film.
I think the biggest success for The Place Beyond The Pines is its original storytelling. I haven’t seen any film structured quite like this one before and it certainly made for an interesting watch. I don’t want to give too much away because I think the film might be better experienced without knowing too much, however, I can say that you can expect multiple storylines to develop throughout the film in an unconventional way.
However, I will say that while I appreciated the departure from the conventional storytelling, I didn’t enjoy the last part of the film as much as the rest. It felt a bit too rushed and forced to complete a circle, but it certainly doesn’t take away from the rest of the film. After taking some time to think about the film, I think I was able to see it more as a whole and appreciate it for what it was.
The film is also fortunate to have an excellent cast. Although I guess “fortunate” is not the right word, because while the cast itself is pretty fantastic, I do think Cianfrance also creates the environment for them to do their best work, and they do… oh man they do. With a cast including Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, and Ben Mendelsohn, it’s hard to go wrong, but nevertheless, you will see some great performances.
The Place Beyond The Pines is not really the blockbuster movie you go see on a weekend and it certainly doesn’t strive to be. Instead, it’s a beautiful, novel, independent, character driven film that should please film lovers. It certainly left me thinking about it.
The Place Beyond The Pines opens in New York and Los Angeles on March 29th and expands to additional cities through April. You can watch the trailer here.