By Will Ashton | email@example.com
The Place Beyond the Pines| Directed by Derek Cianfrance | Rated R
Coming off of Blue Valentine, one of the best movies of 2010, director Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up picture, The Place Beyond the Pines, had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, his newest effort meets expectations, and then some.
Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver living comfortably on his own until he learns that he has a son named Jason with Romina (Eva Mendes). Despite her insistence otherwise, Luke becomes determined to be the father that his dad never was. In an effort to make some quick money, he joins Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) in robbing banks across town.
But, after making one dangerous mistake, Luke gets entangled with Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a cop who changes his life, and his own, forever.
A multi-generational study on fathers and sons and the decisions we make for and because of them, the movie is a highly ambitious and audacious multi-character study about consequences. With Blue Valentine, Cianfrance made himself a director to watch for. With The Place Beyond the Pines, however, he solidifies himself as one of the best new visions in Hollywood today.
Cianfrance’s greatest strength lies in realism. Everything he paints on screen, so far, feels like a window into the lives of somebody we may or may not ever know. His talents for creating a sense of authenticity through his compelling characters helps make some of the sillier elements of the script, written by Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder, appear believable.
While not quite on par with the caliber they were in Blue Valentine, Cianfrance is still able to pull in some strong performances from his cast. In particular, Cooper, Mendelsohn, and Gosling provide some solid, and surprisingly restrained, acting.
At two-and-a-half hours, The Place Beyond the Pines is a film that actually feels like it deserves its bloated running time. However, a film separated in three separate acts, the third section of his film is, undoubtedly, the weakest. Plot elements, despite their presentation, start to ring a little false and the characters introduced in this act are not as developed as those presented in the two before.
Additionally, the editing throughout the film appears oddly lazy. Often, the film will rely too heavily on fade cuts, which rarely add anything to the film and eventually become distracting. However, several bank-robbing scenes are edited with great ferocity and tension. It should also be noted that this movie begins with a 5+ minute one-shot that, while it’s no Boogie Nights, is still extremely impressive.
The film doesn’t quite hit the same level of his previous effort, but The Place Beyond the Pines is still a highly engaging and compelling look at the lives of others. It demonstrates, once again, that Cianfrance should have a very promising career ahead of him.