[Review] The Place Beyond The Pines

hr_The_Place_Beyond_the_Pines_41 In 2011 Derek Cianfrance won me over with his polarising film Blue Valentine. Once I saw that film, I wasn’t able to stop thinking about it for some time afterwards. The performances were simply amazing and I felt Cianfrance achieved something so raw with his direction. I named him my personal favourite director of that year, and now with his latest film The Place Beyond The Pines, he’s certainly right up there for 2013.

The trailer for this film completely sucked me in, it didn’t say much but it didn’t have to. I love how it barely scratched the surface of what this film is and I am really glad I went into it without much knowledge. The editor of the trailer is a genius, it might be one of the best trailers I have seen recently. In a day where trailers reveal too much, this one remained quiet and I am sure I am not the only one who was blown away by what unfolded on the screen in the film because I wasn’t expecting the story that got thrown at me.

I don’t want to spoil this film for anyone, so I am going to keep this review spoiler free. The experience is such a special one by being in the dark, these experiences don’t come all that often.

A stunt motorcycle rider Luke (Ryan Gosling) decides to stay in town after he finds out he’s fathered a son Jason, with local town girl Romina (Eva Mendes). He gets taken in by Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a place to stay and a job. The town is also home to rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper), who learns the hard way his division is full of corrupt officers. These two men lead very different lives, by they’ll collide in a way that will change things in the town.


Much like Blue Valentine, this is a very raw and natural film. The structure is quite different though, but both films take place over the span of years. This also felt like a very personal film for Cianfrance, and in turn it really hit me hard and I found myself tearing up during parts. It’s a very honest film, its themes ring so true and it certainly made me think about a lot of things in my life. A film like this is a real experience, it took me through so much and it wasn’t just all on screen. The Place Beyond The Pines tapped into something within me, much like Blue Valentine did, and its something I am thankful for. When a film can really bring me in, it feels so special, it reminds me why I love cinema so much.

At its core the film is about fathers and sons, nature vs. nurture, and how the actions we take can have huge consequences in all sorts of ways. The father/son exploration is not a new theme within cinema, but the approach and execution here feels fresh and different. Perhaps the setting and the different lives of Luke and Avery helped that, there was a huge sense of realism to them. Things really hit hard with both of them (again that happened with our leads in Blue Valentine), they were engaging and where their lives take them felt like real life. Maybe that is why I connected so deeply with this, there was that extra level of immersion that comes around every so often here. My feelings with this film are not easy to express and that folks is a sign of a hard hitter.

Looking at the performances, they don’t get much better than they do here. Ryan Gosling is a top performer, he’s had such an interesting career and he continues to make all the right choices. It was evident from Blue Valentine there was a connection between Gosling and Ciafrance, and that connection hasn’t been broken as they make magic here. Cianfrance knows exactly how to use Gosling to his full potential, the man doesn’t speak much and he doesn’t have to. His eyes, face and demeanour actually speak volumes. I could feel what he was feeling, just by looking at his face, he really did not need to utter a single word to get anything across.


Bradley Cooper possibly gives my favourite performance of his here, the man really has some serious acting ability and he finally really shows it here. I thought he was great in his Oscar nominated performance in Silver Linings Playbook, but I just feel overall here he was better. He felt like a real person as Avery, a man wrestling with inner demons, being caught in a bad situation and trying to find a way out. As with Gosling, Cooper really does show a lot with his eyes and with what he does here I can clearly see and feel how far he has come along. He has gotten better and better with each film, and I am just so impressed with what he has accomplished. This might have been the first time I looked passed who he was, and I actually saw Avery the character and not Bradley Cooper the actor. The role he played here is the kind of stuff I have been longing from him, and it fits him well. His connection with Cianfrance is a strong one, it works differently than what the director has with Gosling, and it’d be fantastic to see them work together again.

As far as the actors go, they were all excellent. I was very impressed with Eva Mendes who has broken out of that ‘just a pretty face’ type cast prison where she has been. She gave an actual performance, she showed her talent and proved why she deserves to be here. I really applaud her efforts, and she really did well here. Ben Mendelsohn was really good here, he’s very much a jack of all trades. There isn’t much he can’t do, and he pulls off his role very well and it was most natural. The other person who really blew me away was Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, Lawless), he’s an amazing and captivating performer. When he is on screen he pulls me right in, I can’t move or get away and nor do I want to. He really is going to be someone to keep an eye out on, he’s someone very special.

Derek Cianfrance is a wonderful film maker, he has done no wrong in my eyes. This really was a phenomenal film, as it stands now perhaps the best I have seen for 2013. The script here is really strong, it explores so much and it handles things in such an interesting and unexpected way. The direction by Cianfrance is perhaps more intense in some ways than Blue Valentine, I really felt his touch come through strongly. The Place Beyond The Pines is very much the type of film I love, and yes I have very easily fallen in love with it. I know it wasn’t made specifically for me, but it sure feels like it. This film gets my full endorsement, I urge everyone to go and see this.


2 thoughts on “[Review] The Place Beyond The Pines

  1. I watched this last night and loved it!

    I was also surprised and shocked how the plot kind of twisted and changed all of a sudden I was NOT expecting that especially the window scene *Trying not to spoil it for anyone* I was mad after that scene though I expected more from Luke in the movie, I mean it happened so fast…I kinda got bored after that?

    I love your review as well! =]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s