THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
“The Place Beyond The Pines” reunites co-star Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) in this Crime/Drama. Our main character is Luke, (Gosling) a motorcycle stunt rider struggling to make ends meet. With the hopes of supporting his infant child and ex girlfriend, he turns to robbing banks. This choice puts him in direct contact with a young rookie cop named Avery (played by Bradley Cooper). The film has an ensemble cast, including the likes of Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Ben Mendelsohn.
What I didn’t know about “Place Beyond The Pines” before going into it, was that it was more of a character study on the upbringing of children. The effects it can have on them later on in life and the relationships that they form. I didn’t know that the time span of the film was set across 15-20 years. From our main characters in the beginning of the film, to the future generation in the final act. The film chronicles the events of that time.
I thought the basic idea was quiete a good one, the first act of the film supports this. We meet Luke and see that he is a stunt rider for a carnival. Mostly keeping to himself and doing his job is all Luke has. It’s only a short time until he runs into Romina (Mendes) who he had once had a fling with. He visits her home shortly after and finds out that he has a young son. Luke has little direction in his life and is struggling to make ends meet. Even after some bad decision making (to rob banks) we can see through his flaws as we know his heart is in the right place. He is wanting to be the father that his own father never was. This is the exact moment we are connected to Luke. He isn’t going about things the best way, however you can forgive him because he has good intentions.
The first act had great pacing. In several scenes nice wide lens camera shots, cool motorcycle scenes, and some very powerful acting. Once again Gosling proves why he is close to the best in the business at the moment. As Luke, he conveys so much emotion without saying much at all. I like that his character was written that way. The grungy, poor look they gave him really suited him in the role. I particularly like the scene in the church, we see his tears and frustration. The reason for this is never revealed but regardless, it’s a very powerful scene. After the first act Luke’s luck is looking like it may run out. We are introduced to Avery (Cooper) who is a rookie cop on the force. While he is out on one of his patrols, the two men cross paths. There is an altercation and neither of the mens lives will be the same again.
After the initial climax scene of the film, which I must say was an incredibly gutsy move to make. Cianfrance takes one of the characters down a very different path. It was something I have never seen done before, It was quiete surprising, I thought it was a fantastic twist, but in my opinion it was the downfall of the film. The second act of the film is set a few years down the track. This is where I think it loses its momentum. It’s sense of originality and rawness just dissipates. Avery begins to weaves his way through the police force. Having been promoted, he is amongst some very crooked cops. Avery struggles internally wanting to be an honest cop versus conforming to what he know’s everyone wants him to be. This is of course the plot outline for plenty of other cop films (Training Day, Heat, Pawn and many more). Bradley Cooper does a solid job but the character written is very one-dimensional. Avery makes some very poor decisions that raise some questions. Is he a good person? Is he in the right line of work? ultimately he isn’t someone you can follow for the long haul.
Once the film hits the 100 Minute mark, it picks back up 15 years down the track. You guessed it, both Avery’s son and Luke’s son form a friendship at school (neither of them knowing the connection between their fathers). The mutual love of drugs and parties are the catalysts in their friendship forming. This is where the writing gets very sloppy. The information revealed by one of the boys, about the connection with their fathers seems very convenient. It wasn’t at all well structured or thought out. Was it realistic? probably yes, but lazy. Computers seem to be the answer to everything in this film. I would have like too see Avery’s record wiped clean by the cops at his precinct. After all he does several favours for them earlier in the film. An investigation carried out by Luke’s son, into the events from years earlier would have been sufficient. Instead we get the laziest of writing, with no tension or suspense. That’s not to say Luke’s son, played by Dane DeHann wasn’t on par with the rest of the cast. Avery’s son however…. I’m not sure why a wealthy white kid from the suburbs spends the whole movie talking like a black guy from the projects?? It was once again horrible writing, out of context and very forced.
This last act of the film was very weak, any momentum the film had left was wasted. At 2 hours and 24 minutes this film is probably 40-45 minutes to long anyway. It seems drawn out for the sake of the character development, which I found to be non-existent after the opening act. I think this film had potential to be new and original and to contain strong memorable characters. I have no doubt this was mis-marketed as a crime/thriller. I would describe it as a much slower, straight up family drama film. It had the element of crime in it but was not the focal point. This would be one of the most disappointing films of the year thus far. I had high hopes. I shouldn’t have.
My rating for “The Place Beyond The Pines” is 4.5/10