To call Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” an amazing film would be an understatement. Having never seen Cianfrance’s previous film, “Blue Valentine”, but hearing of its acclaim and popularity, I found myself rather excited for this one. While on the surface it appears as just a crime drama, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is actually so much more as it examines the drama that exists inside, and between, the relationships of fathers and sons and, ultimately, the legacies left behind.
The Lengths People Will Go for Their Loved Ones
Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) and Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) are the main characters of this film. Gosling’s character is more of a drifter but finds he needs to make a home for himself with his ex-lover Romina (Eva Mendes) and their son Jason. Avery Cross is more grounded in terms of being a father and family man, but finds himself always away due to his job as a police officer. While these characters are quite different, the one remarkable thing they have in common is their love and devotion to their families and their drive to do anything to care for and protect them.
“There’s One Way Out and You’re Not Gonna Like It”
As previously mentioned, this film concerns itself with legacies and the ways in which they immortalize themselves, and the narrative structure is a great example of this. Without giving too much away, the film features a three-part story arc in which each part introduces a new set of characters to an already developing story. These characters are integrated well and give the already complex and emotional plot a new level of depth as they bring their own troubles to the table. Gosling’s character will make you sympathetic even as he performs evil deeds, which are only to provide for his son. And Cooper’s character is equally riveting, playing the cop trying to do good despite the corruption that surrounds him. This film also boasts a strong supporting cast; I have to give special mentions to brilliant performances by Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen.
Just like the eponymous pine forests which create some of the setting for this film, the characters and story are rooted deep into their surroundings. Also, the cinematography in the film is beautiful, opening with a long shot of Gosling’s character walking through a rich and vibrant fairground to a spherical steel motorbike cage where he performs a death-defying stunt. This is accompanied by a great soundtrack that brings deep, long chords to express the turmoil and troubles these characters go through.
Even though my only real quarrel with the film was that certain characters could have been given a bit more exposition, “The Place Beyond the Pines” still reigns as the best film I’ve seen this year. It is an emotional powerhouse laden with brilliant performances and a captivating story of consequences – consequences stretching not only beyond the pines which inhabit them, but beyond the generations which must live with them.