The Place Beyond the Pines


A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.


Director: Derek Cianfrance

Writer[s]: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccino, Darius Marder

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, Bradley Cooper


TPBtP opens up with long one-shot take introducing Ryan Gosling as “Handsome” Luke, a dirt-bike cage rider in a carnival. The scene gives you a perfect snap-shot of the film’s cinematic and thematic style, and I could tell right away that I would appreciate the craftsmanship from a technological viewpoint. But there is much more to a film that than look and sound.

The twenty minutes were I found to be pretty shallow, with a quick, nonchalant breeze through our introduction to the characters and the story. There is clearly a narrow focus chronologically that writer/director Derek Cianfrance is looking to hit. It’s not long that we have to wait, however, to get some seriously intense jolts to propel us into the real heart of the story.

A lot of this film plays off of the marketing and trailer, so I won’t delve into any more actual details of the film. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that I don’t remember feeling such high levels of pure shock in a long time. A huge range of emotions is created within the viewer as so many strange occurrences take place. A dark world that comes back around in an awesome circular pattern, both thematically and technically, that leaves you in awe.

Bradley Cooper gives what I think is his best performance ever. He is given a character with a wide path to traverse and room to work with, and he hits the nail on the head. A rookie cop, trying to do what’s right in a system that is wrong. This is the performance I needed to get me onto his bandwagon that was so populated after Silver Linings Playbook. Gosling is almost typecast for the role of the reserved bad-ass that does the “right” thing in the wrong way. After Drive, this looks to be his primary role, and for good reasons, for he is very effective in it.

The soundtrack is an interesting one. I’m a sucker for great soundtracks, and I see them as one of the most vital pieces of a great film. The selections for this movie are strange and seem kind of out of place. Some of the pieces fit wonderfully, but in the first 45 minutes, the theme, styles, and focus are just so strangely pieced together. It’s actually pretty interesting, but I won’t call it good.

My Rating

3/4 – The Place Beyond the Pines is much more than you think it will be. Corruption, lies, stealing, greed, and a circular world; a dark, striking film with a solid cast and peppered with moments that grip you leave you speechless in awe.


One thought on “The Place Beyond the Pines

  1. Not the perfect piece of cinema that I’ve seen at all this year, but still a good flick nonetheless, with more than capable performers at the top of their games. Good review.

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