Review: The Place Beyond the Pines
The lives of two men and their young families become intertwined and drastically altered when one, a police officer, tracks down the other, a daredevil criminal. Drama and tension is set in the place beyond the pines – the quaint upstate New York town of Schenectady.
Who’s in It?
Ryan Gosling, as usual, is enthralling, despite playing a lost, confused biker turned convict, while Eva Mendes is Romina, his ex-lover. Bradley Cooper brings his boyish charm to the screen as a young, earnest cop. Ray Liotta, playing an seedy policeman (of course) is utterly terrifying with every look and sound, and Ben Mendelsohn, a that guy, is creepy and captivating throughout as a backwoods-dwelling loner named Robin.
A triptych of stories in which each is less rewarding than the previous, individual pieces of Pines serve to be more impressive than the whole. It is a tempered, atmospheric look at fatherhood, husbandry, and duty, and the long term effects of your good-intentioned or obligatory actions. None of these ideas are ever fully fleshed out, though, coming across often disjointed and sometimes empty.
Gosling is Luke, a tattooed, inside-out tee shirt-wearing carnival daredevil that is only the least bit likeable because the actor portraying can do no wrong. Gosling’s charm and piercing eyes are also important because they will help you gloss over some of the illogical transgressions in this world, one where time seems to stand still yet so much happens so quickly. Luke receives news he is a father to a one-year-old boy, and promptly quits his job to stay in one place and be a hard working father. So he resorts to theft.
As he simultaneously enchants and disturbs his ex-love Romina (Mendes, strong but underused), he does the same to the audience. The story takes its first marked shift when Luke meets Officer Avery Cross (Cooper), a young, fortunate son of a politician, a boy in blue with baby blues. Like Gosling, he is able to redeem plot holes, trivial dialogue, and absurd conveniences however his storyline is filled with more humdrum circumstances.
The last of the three tales requires suspension of belief, as director Derek Cianfrance wants to direct you to a very specific vision of what the actions of Luke and Avery cause – or could cause in some alternate universe (it’s the darkest timeline). Dane DeHaan is unnerving as a bored teenager, while his friend, played by Emory Cohen, is more stereotypical and absurd than anything else.
Pines never achieves what it wants, as overarching themes lose stream through an incongruent story and performances that are impressive, but don’t seem to exist in the same film.
Should I See It?
Maybe you can pay a third of the price and just watch the Gosling part.
After devising a criminal plan, Luke tells his Robin: “We’re gonna be the best team since Hall & Oates!” “Oh, I guess you want to be the attractive one,” says Robin. “Well I guess that makes sense.”