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The Place Beyond The Pines | The Clapper Bored

The Place Beyond The Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines is a weird film, and I think that needs to be said before I start. Adverts have sold it to look like the bastard lovechild of Drive and Silver Linings Playbook, in a drive to get punters in for their big-name stars, but that’s hugely misleading. Instead, consider director Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine as a reference point- disjointed and confusing chronology, sprawling vignette narrative, and beautiful people. The Place Beyond the Pines is, actually, three smaller films, each with its own narrative arc, and anchored by the three central performances by Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Dane DeHaan. It’s a shame, therefore, that the final storyline feels like an error, and undermines a lot of the judgmental ambiguity of the previous two hours.

The film opens following Ryan Gosling’s motorcycle driver, who turns to bank robberies after his ex-squeeze (played by Eva Mendes) informs him that he has a son that he might like to support. From there, the film becomes a sprawling drama that focuses on American family life. Gosling passes the baton to Cooper, who then passes the baton to DeHaan. If you were expecting the film, as the trailers suggest, to be a cop-and-robber/cat-and-mouse between The Goz and The Coop, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I won’t explain the manner in which the batons are passed, but the first instance of the shift was fantastic and ought to have been the dramatic crux of the film.

Unfortunately, Cianfrance, for reasons unknown, introduces a third act- after a significant time jump- that eliminates the subjunctive ambiguity of the earlier family dynamics. It’s a bolder move and becomes bolder still when it moves into a darker section, that more closely resembles a thriller than a drama. DeHaan is an engaging young actor, but the section is weak, and as Cooper ghosts back into the occasional scene, you’ll be left wishing that we could return to his storyline- a genuinely affecting moral dilemma. In the end, the film is left feeling like it has massively overplayed its hand, but that shouldn’t diminish the fact that the previous two acts are excellently played and filmed and will find a very receptive audience. But you should consider leaving the cinema about 45 minutes from the end.

A beautiful sprawling crime drama that lets itself down by insisting upon tying up loose ends and bringing about a ‘Hollywood’ resolution.

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Title: The Place Beyond The Pines
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Dane DeHaan, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne
Running Time: Epic.
Certificate: 15

2 Comments

  1. jock mackay says:

    I couldn’t agree more. However 4 stars is generous

  2. Brett Stewart says:

    I’ve noticed Cooper has been occupying increasingly much better roles, lately. I thought “Silver Linings Playbook” was one of the absolute best films of 2012. I used to not take him seriously as an actor, especially with roles like the Hangover. Now, I’ve beginning to turn around with him.