The Place Beyond The Pines (2013)

Genre: Crime, Drama

Directors: Derek Cianfrance

Writers: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio , Darius Marder

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes

Rating: ★★★★★

The Place beyond the Pines was a film that slipped past my radar in early 2013 but it soon became top of my “must-see” list after seeing it top many “Best of the Year lists”. It is safe to say those plaudits were spot on as many aspects of Derek Cianfrance’s release are flawless. Following a fantastically written story which has been executed equally as good, it is further topped off by a great casting ensemble. The Place beyond the Pines is a film that is totally entertaining, and leaves you reflecting days after which again adds to its brilliance.

We follow the life of Luke (Ryan Gosling) a dreamy motorcycle stunt rider, rebellious and dangerous we quickly form a bond routing for our protagonist. On a circuit tour living the carnival life he performs in the New York town of Schenectady, where he then attempts to reunite with his previous lover Romina (Eva Mendes). Secretly and unknowingly to Luke, Romina has recently given birth to his son, in an act of courage Luke makes a bold decision to quit riding and settle, providing for his new family. Obstacles soon appear for Luke as he has to fight for Romina and his child with new lover Kofi whilst his new wage earned being a mechanic is staggeringly low. Turning to a life of crime to support his family giving them a life and experience he always wanted, Luke robs a series of banks.

However his life as bank robber soon puts him on the path with ambitious and eager police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).  Looking for a quick way up the ranks Avery has to battle within his department as well as out, as it is riddled with a set of corrupt superiors. Luke’s and Avery’s path of sin and trouble soon changes their lives for the worse. Forwarding into the future we then see how these past sins haunt a pair of high school boys trying to accept the legacy they inherited. As life once again proves to be more than complicated the only refuge is a place beyond the pines.

The story is one that still amazes me for many reasons, the element of realism and the outside perspective of a “ripple effect” are somewhat brilliant, but the top of the list is how well executed The Place beyond the Pines is. It left me reflecting how past actions have affected the present and even the future of my life. The way this drama unfolds is also truly brilliant, there’s at no point a dull moment and I was kept entertained and intrigued throughout. The characters and the development were flawless too, Ryan Gosling’s Luke was our hero, the true “anti-hero” in an aspect, and scenes where he played with his son and attempted to put together new cots were actually and surprisingly pleasant. Then when we switched to follow the life of Cooper’s Avery we found a new hero and events to be entertained by.

The casting ensemble was also great and deserves much applause and credit. Gosling played his dreamy Luke brilliantly likewise with Cooper and his Avery. Eva Mendes although a slightly more back-grounded character still portrayed and captured an excellent performance, with all three characters really inspiring and connecting with us. Derek Cianfrance directing was a real highlight too, with many shots being awe-inspiring whilst all scene’s emotions were really heightened to full potential and impact. On a final note and a deserved mention was the score which provided an equal amount of entertainment with Bon Iver’s The Wolves and Mark Patton’s Snow Angel becoming new favourites.

In a whole The Place beyond the Pines left me feeling very entertained and thoughtful and upon reflection the film is flawless with every aspect executed well and interacting together brilliantly. I am surprised this release even slipped past my radar and didn’t become a much talked about huge success. To say The Place beyond the Pines is a “must-see” is a given, and I can only hope that it has the same remarkable impact on everyone else.

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11 comments on “The Place Beyond The Pines (2013)

      • I enjoy it, too. Gave it a B-, which is still well above average and accomplishing its objectives (on my grading scale).

        I thought the final third rushed and the two sons underdeveloped. I was also underwhelmed by the uselessness of mothers, and – by extension – the development of female characters. For me detail, if you’re interested:

        http://jjamesreviews.wordpress.com/the-reviews/2013-2/by-letter-grade/the-place-beyond-the-pines/

        But let me say again. I like this film a lot, not least because it is borderline unique (using the literal definition of that adjective).

      • I’ll check out yours now for sure, and thanks for sharing and commenting! You must have liked this film then with a high rating, and i agree in comparison to the other stories the last act was rushed but i didn’t find this a problem. The female characters were limited, Eva only getting a story in the first half but maybe that in itself has a whole different message.

  1. Good review, I also enjoyed this movie. The first act is my favorite part. As you mentioned, I also liked the ripple effect of how past actions affect the present. But one thing – I’d wish there was a stronger resolution between Cooper and his son at the end, or maybe there was and I missed it or maybe that was the point?

    • I agree the story of Luke is my favourite, most likely because that’s the first character we connect to and he’s meant to be our main protagonist. The ending does focus on how Luke’s son rides away and somehow wants to follow his footsteps, I think and assume Cooper and his son will now be better off as the truth is out and the true values of life are established, the whole wake-up call about power and authority not always being important. Glad you enjoyed it, one to re-watch and enjoy again for sure 🙂

  2. Hello again Liam, good review yo, seems like you really liked this film, wish I could say the same. I remember watching this in the cinema last year expecting something really good considering the great cast and tone of the trailer. What I got was a pretty dramatic film with some great performances, but the story seemed to overstay its welcome and have an incredibly long and unexpected focus on Bradley Cooper’s character.

    • Hey man, thanks again and really? I would have thought in the cinema this would have been great due to you being more focused, I replied to a previous commenter how I preferred the first act and Luke’s story more but I think Cooper’s Avery had to be more emphasised as it brought in the two kids. The story for me was the highlight, I wish I saw it in cinema but as I said the hype must have been very low-key.

      • Pretty much, I did prefer the first half, it was the more engaging side of things for me with Luke. After he died I kind of lost interest because I thought he was the more interesting of the two main character. Avery is cool and all, but his character just wasn’t for me. I’m a very fickle person when it comes to films like this and I need to be constantly engaged with a compelling character or story and for me it lost steam once Luke disappeared.

      • Think its just the appeal of characters to some viewers rather than story, when Luke died I was attracted to the story rather than Avery’s character. Luke was of course more appealing cause he was dangerous, cool and our first protagonist.

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