Hello there friends, today I take an in-depth look at Director Derek Cianfrance’s second film The Place Beyond The Pines (2013) starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Ray Liotta. It’s an American drama film, or more accurately one of those ‘life’ films, portraying a kind of narrative strand within life it’s self, just portraying a story of the human existence kind of like Tree of Life (2011) directed by Terence Malick, without the experimental parts. I saw the trailers and a lot of the hype for this, and was quite excited. Watching it today, it is not what I expected but then again, I think it’s quite hard to portray what this film is within the confines of a short trailer. However the promotional material definitely seems to make the film a lot more palpable for mainstream audiences, when it’s definitely more of an alternative film, I feel.
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a touring motorcyclist stuntman for a travelling fair, as he returns to a small town to find a girl named Romina (Eva Mendes) he slept with years ago now has his child . He attempts to support her and the child, being befriended by a mechanic called Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) He begins to rob banks, with the aid of robin, until Robin wants out, and Luke is confronted by young ambition copy Avery which leads to a shootout and Luke is killed. The story then switches to Avery’s point of view, as he and his police friends go to Romina’s house, and search it, taking the stolen bank money Luke left and giving it to Avery claiming it’s ‘hazard pay’. Following this, Avery is dragged into dirty dealings, and sells his fellow cops out to get the promotion he thinks he deserves, as he becomes District Attorney. 15 Years later, Luke and Avery’s sons meet as they unravel the truth of their father’s history.
I may be going off on a wild tangent here, but I’d like to talk about narrative structure before I dive into the crux of The Place Beyond The Pines. In practicality, if you want to segment your story into different parts, told by different people you need to make sure that one of your story segments isn’t vastly more entertaining than the others, especially not at the beginning of the film. This is what Place Beyond The Pine does, first exploring the deep, confused character of Luke (Ryan Gosling), switching to the not so goody two-shoes Avery (Bradley Cooper), before then descending into this squabble between their children. It just took the plunge from high interesting drama, to teenage angst and for me the film lost steam, I couldn’t maintain interest particularly in it’s catharsis which seemed kind of empty. There was no real penultimate action, it just lead to Luke’s son discovering his identity, and going on the run to be like him.
So the performances were hit and miss really, Eva Mendes was okay, but she didn’t have a lot of screentime. Gosling was the best performance in the film by a country mile, however as a supporting actor Ben Mendelsohn added a lot of personality into the story. The score was particularly effective, a blend of harsh and mellow sharp tones, accompanied by 80’s nostalgic music when appropriate. The cinematography was pretty much superb, the tracking shots on the motorcycle were expertly done, and I particularly like the long tracking shots following the two characters as we see how people react to them (Luke in the Circus fairground/Avery in the Police Station).
While you don’t typically wanna read into a text like the Place Beyond The Pines too deeply, I would define it as one of morality. The cop shot the robber dead, the robber wasn’t even concerned with attacking the cop seemingly, and his son grows up to be a confused, maligned man just wanting a father figure to guide him, while the son of the cop grows up to be the world’s most smarmiest prick anyone’s ever seen.
Judgement = Good (6-7/10). Elaboration: The Place Beyond The Pines certainly had me hooked at first, but in my opinion went in the wrong direction, and could have been a lot more gripping if it had mirrored the two characters and had them face each other in the end, however the whole dead-pan flop I felt the ending was marred and otherwise a soulful and aesthetic experience. Well that’s it for this time folks, please Follow/Comment/Like, and Follow me @Sam’s_Reel_Views. Cheers!