Posted by: ckckred | August 23, 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines


Director Derek Cianfrance and Ryan Gosling first teamed up in 2010 for Blue Valentine.  The success of that film has led the two to collaborate again, this time for a large and even more ambitious picture.  That movie is The Place Beyond The Pines, which could be described as a modern day American epic, taking place in Altamont, New York.  Not all of the film comes together, but the result is something spectacular and arguably surpasses Blue Valentine.

The Place Beyond The Pines revolves around a few central players who each have their own third of the story, all of them connected (I will attempt to be as spoiler-proof as possible but be warned).  The first third revolves around Luke (Ryan Gosling), a young motorist who after discovers he has had a child with his ex-girlfriend Romina (Eva Mendes).  Wanting to support her and the child, Luke starts robbing multiple banks.  The second third is about Avery (Bradley Cooper), a cop who after taking injury during a shoot-out becomes a town hero.  His life soon turns around though as he discovers the corruption behind the police department.  The final third is about two teenager (Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan) who befriend each other but discover secrets in each others’ lives.

While almost entirely set in Altamont, The Place Beyond The Pines feels like it takes place in an enormous world.  The vast amount of characters and settings certainly make this film much bigger than one would expect and Cianfrance manages to pull of the epicness of the movie.  He opens up his picture with a steadicam shot that pays homage to Martin Scorsese and concludes with the bustling of some great pines before cutting to the title.  Cianfrance manages to control most of the elements in between.  Though the last third grows wary and ended on a note that made me feel unsatisfied, the first two thirds are strong enough to keep the movie afloat.

Cianfrance’s biggest strength is his ability with actors.  Ryan Gosling gives a similar performance as his role in Drive, a tough, almost machine-like man.  One criticism of Gosling is that his characters typically tend to be emotionless, something which I would disagree with.  I felt anguish and pain for Gosling’s character through the film.  Bradley Cooper, who has been proving recently he can provide great dramatic performances, gives his best role yet as Avery and Eva Mendes isn’t bad as well.

While I had some issues with the plot, The Place Beyond The Pines is an excellent, tense thriller that’s thus far one of the year’s best and most entertaining movies.


  1. After the first act finished it lost a couple of points from me, but I still loved it. Nice write up buddy 🙂

    • Thanks! Yeah, it lost some steam along the way, but I loved the film.

  2. Great review man. I too would rate it higher than Blue Valentine and definitely one of the best I’ve seen this year.

    • Thanks! Yeah, this one was one of the best I’ve seen all year. Cianfrance is really becoming a great director. I hope he collaborates with Gosling again.

  3. Nice review mate. I watched this the other day myself and I enjoyed it. It does meander at times, but I think it’s cleverly written. Gosling is becoming a little typecast as this emotionless anti-hero though.

    • Thanks! I agree, it does seem to lose its way, particularly at the end, but it was incredibly entertaining. Yeah, I think Gosling’s beginning to play the same performance over and over, but he’s good in that kind of role (I mean that as a compliment).

  4. Nice wrie-up. I finally got around to seeing this last week and I really liked it. The performances were universally excellent – although I’m getting a little bored of Gosling’s non-acting!

    I love the whole grand, greek tragedy feeling – that epic, sins of our fathers type stuff! But he manages to combine it with really natural performances that give the story real grounding, even during the more extreme plot turns.

    • Thanks! Yeah, what Cianfrance does is really great. He really pulls off a greek tragedy-feel with this movie. And while I’m a fan of Gosling, I also kind of wish he would give a different kind of performance.

  5. I can’t find much fault with this film. It had me mesmerized from start to finish.

    • Thanks for commenting. I had some issues with the ending, but the movie was really mesmerizing.

  6. This is on my list of films to see before the year is out. Thanks, ckckred

    • Thanks for the comment! I highly recommend it, one of the year’s best in my opinion.

  7. The cast is honestly amazing, but even they feel like they’re let-down by the last act. It’s still compelling, but not as dramatic or as emotional as it was with the first story. Good review.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I agree about the last act, it was much weaker than the first two thirds of the film and I was unsatisfied by the ending. I still felt it was a great movie in total.

  8. Great review of one of my films of the year.

    • Thanks! It’s one of my favorites of the year thus far as well.

  9. Nice review! I had more mixed feelings on the film – I agree that it’s ambitious, but I think it’s reach exceeds its grasp. The performances are solid (though not as much in the final third) and the direction is gorgeous and innovative, but I felt that it maybe oversold some of its themes when it could have had more faith in its audience’s intelligence. Still, it’s a different film, and that’s always appreciated.

    • Thanks! Good point, it did lose its emotional grasp a bit, particularly in the final third, but I felt it was a strong movie overall.

  10. Very late to the party, but happy reading you also enjoyed it a lot. just like you it is one of my favorites this year.

    • Thanks for the comment! An exceptional film for sure. It loses its footing at the end, but I still really liked it.

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