The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

May 25, 2013 By Mike B
Movie Review

The Place Beyond the Pines Film Review

What Worked?

The relationship between fathers and sons is examined many times in the history of cinema, and remains engaging because it can never be fully grasped. The Place Beyond the Pines is yet another film that touches on that subject, examining the lives of two men on different sides of the imaginary line of justice,which you can only see if you’re imaginative, along with their sons. A fine cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes bring these tragic characters to life by the puppeteer work of Derek Cianfrance.

This film is rather intimately shot, with tight framing of the characters, especially in revealing scenes. There’s really nothing fancy about it, allowing you to absorb the performances. The few chase scenes sprinkled throughout are done well, putting you into the action right alongside the protagonists. The script is very ambitious, and it touches what it’s reaching for most of the time in the poetic phases the film goes through to complete the modern day Greek tragedy.

The entire cast convey their characters well, and truly commit as a whole. Bradley Cooper as Avery, the rookie cop with a hero’s trigger finger, is the one that seems to perform the best when he’s under the spotlight. Cooper is subtly distraught, and his eyes are always thinking, immersed in his thoughts about what justice is, what “good” is and can be, and what it means to be a father. On the other side, there’s Ryan Gosling, a tatted up motorcycle stunt rider that somewhat reminds me of a younger-minded version of Motorcycle Boy from Rumble Fish. Gosling delivers performs exactly what his character is: lightning. The interweaving stories of both men are what make the film more than just a crime film with daddy issues.

The Place Beyond the Pines is a remarkable piece of work by Cianfrance, and an intimate look at fathers and sons. Why does the relationship between father and son tend to be some kind of beautiful struggle? This film doesn’t have a clear answer, but I’d like to think it answers it through the characters drifting thoughts.

Potential Drawbacks:

There are those that may find it difficult to connect to any of the characters in the film, especially if father and son relationships aren’t of interest to them. Additionally, this is a rather unusual film in that it focuses on different characters with each phase of the film, so those that are used to linear stories that stick to the same main character might be thrown off.

For some, incorporating the dirty money and crooked cop sub-plot might not have been executed properly. Officer Avery gets out of that pickle with the dirty cops a little too smoothly, and it might’ve worked better with a little more elaboration, although it’s not really significant to the main theme.

Film Recommendations:

Blue Valentine

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

A Bronx TaleĀ 



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