VOD film review: The Place Beyond the Pines
Chris Bryant | On 05, Aug 2013
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne
The Place Beyond The Pines showcases two of the biggest names in film as two honour-bound fathers. Accompanied by a strong cast of established names (Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne) as well as some recognisable rising stars (Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan), the plot follows these two, and their echoing decisions, across 16 years.
Luke Glanton (a tattooed Gosling doing his patented strong, silent type) is an impulsive, live-hard-die-young motorbike rider. Abandoned by his father and living a simple life as a travelling stuntman, he keeps the thrills inside the cage. Upon discovering he has a son, though, he decides his only option (persuaded by new friend Robin, a helpful lowlife) is to start robbing banks. Torn apart by Eva Mendes’ uncertainty about him, and her love for her new boyfriend, Luke starts to unravel and takes too many risks. Dad of the year, he ain’t.
Director Derek Cianfrance then shifts perspective to hero policeman Avery Cross (an equally driven and vulnerable Cooper). After a traumatic event leaves him the toast of the precinct, Cross begins to question the honour of his fellow officers. He leaves the brown-nosing to his hard-to-please Dad and concentrates on being a good cop. But, pushed to the limits by his department’s ignorance of corruption, he is forced into the world of politics to do the good he always hoped, without thinking of the effect that will have on his wife and, more importantly, his son.
Built upon a premise of action and reaction, Cianfrance creates a peaceful, chaotic world where Glanton and Cross struggle to do what is right by doing the wrong thing. The true beauty of the film is Cianfrance’s knowledge of where to place blame – something made both more complicated and yet clearer thanks to the story’s sheer scope. These are flawed leading men but Derek’s direction keeps them relatable, understandable and strong enough to stay interesting, even across several generations.
The pace of the film, the wonder Cianfrance finds in each shot, coupled with this epic scale, gives the film a feeling of length. It is not too long, nor too detailed, but you are aware of the time span covered. It gives the film a sense of grandness, of passion and of meaning, even if the novelty in seeing the town’s youngsters following in their fathers’ footsteps is lost quickly.
The Place Beyond The Pines is quiet, thoughtful and stunning filmmaking. There are few better examples of such well-written, conflicted and exposed characters given to actors of Cooper and Gosling’s size today.