REVIEW: THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

Derek Cianfrance’s newest cinematic adventure, The Place Beyond The Pines, spins a tragic tale of karma, regret and the ripple effect of decisions. Schenectady, NY provides a picturesque backdrop for the drama that reunites him with Ryan Gosling who starred opposite Michelle Williams in his last picture Blue Valentine. Gosling plays Luke, a slightly more verbose version of his getaway driver character from Drive, who leaves his gig as a circus motorcycle stunt driver when he discovers a past lover named Romina (Eva Mendes) had his kid unbeknownst to him. Determined to provide for his child and rekindle his relationship with Romina, Luke turns to new found friend Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) who convinces him to use his motorcycle skills to help him rob a series of banks. Bradley Cooper plays Avery Cross, a beat cop who comes face to face with Luke after a long car chase. Instead of this meeting acting as a climax, it instead serves as the setup to the remainder of the film. The result of Luke and Avery clashing leaves the two characters forever changed and affects the lives of everyone around them for years to come. 

Cianfrance does a commendable job building drama from scene to scene, but the fractured writing often detracts from the character development and often leaves the audience wondering who to root for. There is a large amount invested in several characters and very little payoff. The acting is perhaps the strongest aspect of the film as Gosling shows us again how magnetic he is while Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, Lawless) continues to impress in his young career as Luke’s son Jason. While slightly disappointing and certainly not groundbreaking, The Place Beyond The Pines is appropriate rainy day fare with stunning visuals, above average acting and a powerful use of music to underscore the taut drama. Come for a tattooed Ryan Gosling on a motorcycle, enjoy the palpable tension throughout the movie, and be sure to stay for the use of Bon Iver’s “The Wolves”as perhaps the best movie ending music since Elliot Smith’s “Miss Misery” in Good Will Hunting.

Director: Derek Cianfrance Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta

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