The Place Beyond The Pines is the latest film by Derek Cianfrance, who made the bonafide modern classic Blue Valentine a couple years ago. The Place Beyond The Pines like his previous film stars that actor of the moment Ryan Gosling. It also stars that actor who seems to have elevated himself out of being typecast as that guy from The Hangover films Bradley Cooper. It also has a very fine supporting cast with Eva Mendes (Gosling’s real-life girlfriend), Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn (one of the finest actors working today) and Bruce Greenwood.
The film is starts with being about Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling), a motorcycle stuntman who is working the fairs. He is currently in Altamont, New York and pays a visit to an ex-lover of his Romina (Eva Mendes) and finds out he the father of her son. He decides to stay out and provide for his son but Romina does want him in the kid’s life and she also has a new boyfriend anyway. He eventually gets a job as a mechanic work for a man called Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) and he is getting minimum wage and askes for more money and Robin reveals he use to rob banks and suggest he should do the same. They eventually become a bank robbing team with Robin as the getaway driver and Luke as the robber.
They are very successful at the start but then the film takes a sudden swift and focuses on Bradley Cooper playing Avery Cross who is a cop. He is pronounced a hero after he kills a criminal by his fellow officers and the media. He is uneasy about the media attention and his fellow cops try to get him involved with police corruption. The story of Luke is integral to Avery’s story and also his son’s story later on.
The opening scene is a truly spellbinding long take of Ryan Gosling walking to a circus tent to perform a stunt. The film is full of great long takes thought out especially during the first half and the bank robbery scenes. Ryan Gosling gives his usual great too cool for school performance. However the real revelation is Bradley Cooper who shows why he was accepted into the very exclusive actor’s studio many years ago. Ray Liotta; who is seaming to be making a much welcome comeback and his fellow Killing Them Softly cast member Ben Mendelsohn who seams to be in anything good at the moment.
The story has been remarked on my many other critics as being very mythological and full of classic Greek Tragedy and it certainally does. The coincidences of the last act of the film as first may seem very far-fetched and contrived. This however isn’t necessarily the case if you think of classical storytelling and also the size of the small town the characters inhabit. I’ve seen the film twice now and I’m still not quite sure the last act fully works. It does however not ruin the film like some other endings do and also it doesn’t seem forced.
The film has been compared to The Godfather in story but this is lazy journalism. The film is about family and it’s consequences like that classic and both are films about crime but that’s where the comparisons end. The film reminds me more of films like Straight Time, Goodfellas (the director’s favourite film) or even the more recent Killing Them Softly cause the criminal characters are much more realistic than something as romantic as The Godfather.
The Place Beyond The Pines is one of the cinematic events of the year and should not be missed. The film is much more epic in tone and scope than Blue Valentine which is in turn becomes one of it’s flaws but there is very much to admire to make it a possible contender for my top 10 at the end of the year.
DVD/BD Release Date: 12th August 2013 (UK)
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta
Buy The Place Beyond The Pines: [Blu-ray] or [DVD]