The Place Beyond The Pines appeared with absolutely no fanfare and frankly I would have missed it if it weren’t for a keen eyed friend spotting it in listings outside of our usual cinematic jurisdiction.
It is obvious that Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper were the only reason that I went out of my way to see this film and I see no sense in trying to convince you otherwise. I am not that good a writer.
PLOT: Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) discovers that he has a young son following a fling with Romina (Eva Mendes). As he descends into a life of crime in order to provide for the child Luke crosses paths with police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper). The next fifteen years are played out in real time as father/son bullshit is inherited by a new generation. END PLOT.
When my friends and I leave the cinema there is usually a few moments of silence before one of us tentatively offers an opinion on the film we have just viewed. After exiting The Place Beyond The Pines the silence lasted much longer than usual until a friend said, with all sincerity, “the rat symbolises obviousness”. In four words she had essentially, and rather annoyingly, provided the most accurate review in cinematic history.
The Place Beyond The Pines doesn’t shy away from the main father/son theme and why should it? It is a film about fathers and sons. Unfortunately the theme is not handled with any subtlety and the drama plays out with an almost tedious inevitability. It isn’t helped by the script which is split into three distinct acts. The jump from section to section was so jarring that a bikini clad model walking across the screen with a flashing neon sign would have been less obvious.
The pace is so slow that by the time the final section, which focused on the Luke and Avery’s unlikeable children, arrived I had already lost the will to live. A 140min (IMDB) felt like a lifetime.
The script isn’t half as clever as it thinks it is and is saved by the performances of the cast. Ryan Gosling is excellent and as per usual Gosling is at his best when he doesn’t have many lines – with his quiet intensity you cannot take your eyes of him.
Bradley Cooper gives the best performance of his career but if you compare the scenes in which both Avery and Luke cry there is no question that Gosling is the better actor.
Dane DeHann is doing a solid job of quietly building up a reputation as being a very promising young actor and Ray Liotta and Bruce Greenwood show up in small but effective supporting roles.
The Place Beyond The Pines doesn’t bother to give Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne anything to do. They are simply the vessels used to produce angst/attitude ridden teenagers and their characters are not developed any deeper than this. It is a pity as Mendes showed some promise with her limited screen time.
Derek Cianfrance’s film, although gorgeous to look at, is an overlong melodrama which boasts an A-List cast but misses the mark by quite some margin. Gosling and Cooper fans can take comfort that their performances can't be faulted but The Place Beyond The Pines is the biggest disappointment of the year so far. It gets 4/10.