My Thoughts on The Place Beyond the Pines

ThePlaceBeyondthePines Director Derek Cianfrance follows up the 2010 romance Blue Valentine with this film about two men on opposite sides of the law.  Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver, who is reunited with his old flame Romina (Eva Mendes).  Just as he was about to leave town with the carnival he works for, he finds out that he fathered Romina’s one year old son.  Desperate to get the money to help support the child, Luke resorts to robbing banks, which puts him in the path of rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper).  Avery is essentially the polar opposite of Luke, except that he too has a one year old son.  Throughout the course of his storyline, Avery finds out that many of his fellow officers, most notably Deluca (Ray Liotta), are quite corrupt by taking pay offs and stealing evidence.  This causes a major ethical dilemma, which will result in Avery making some tough differences.  The film contrasts both Luke and Avery’s decisions and how they affect both themselves and their children. I have to admit that The Place Beyond the Pines is a difficult film to write about without getting into some spoilers.  Since I don’t want to reveal too much about the film, I will just say that Luke and Avery’s stories are told separately for the most part, even though there is much crossover between the two.  In fact, for the final act of the film, the action jumps ahead by 15 years and refocuses on how the decisions of the two men have affected the lives of their now teenage sons.  I have to admit that it was this area where the film started to falter, especially since it was already going on for nearly two hours at that point and it was a bit excruciating watching another 40 minute storyline play out, when you would rather have the film start wrapping itself up. Ryan Gosling was definitely the standout of the two lead actors.  You really sympathize with Luke and his efforts to be part of his son’s life, even though Romina has started a new life with a new boyfriend.  While he definitely takes the most desperate of measures, you can still feel that he has his heart is in the right place.  Bradley Cooper, on the other hand, is essentially playing a form of the character he always does and there is not really anything special about his performance.  However, I do have to make note of Rose Byrne as Avery’s wife, who desperate for her husband to give up his life as a cop and move on to a less dangerous life. The film has quite a few POV shots, most notably an extended take at the start of the film, showing Luke walking through the carnival to his stunt show.  While these shots are quite interesting, they also come off as shaky and may cause motion sickness in some viewers.  Even though the title of the film is merely a translation of the Mohawk word that makes up the name of the the town the film takes place it (Schenectady, New York), there are definitely many nice shots of pines in the film, especially during key moments. Overall, I will say that I found The Place Beyond the Pines to be a decent enough drama.  However, the 2hr20m length and somewhat weak third act causes it to lose a few points in my book. 7 | FAIR