Movie review: The Place Beyond the Pines

Posted: April 24, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines  crosses lines successfully

Walking out of The Place Beyond the Pines, you’ll feel like you’ve just watched three movies back to back. And in essence, you have. You’ve just seen a seedy crime thriller, an equally seedy look at police corruption and an examination of the repercussions of our consequences beyond even our own generation. Though at times disjointed, Pines manages to weave together three emotionally charged, brutally sad and thoughtful stories.

First we are introduced to Luke (Ryan Gosling), a heart-throb — literally, he has the word heart-throb tattooed on his neck — motorcycle driver who discovers his fling with Romina (Eva Mendes) has resulted in the birth of his son, Jason. To help support the child, Luke begins robbing banks. One of the robberies goes sour, and soon he has rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper) on his tail. It’s so difficult to not divulge any further, but for the sake of spoilers, I’ll end the summary there.

Gosling seems to have fallen into a pattern with his roles. He plays the character who doesn’t really say much and is pushed to extreme, sometimes violent measures to help provide for the ones he loves, and despite this violence, you find yourself deeply sympathizing with him. Now these could be an issue for some, but the indisputable fact is that he plays the role so well. If you had to boil his character down to the simplest essence, it would be his character from Drive on a motorcycle.

It’s not just Gosling that turns in a stellar performance, however. Mendes brings a gut-wrenching excellence to her character, a woman trapped between the father of her child and the man she’s currently dating. It’s difficult to discuss Cooper’s character without divulging spoilers, so I’ll just tell you he gives an equally solid performance. The star-studded cast doesn’t end there; Ray Liotta does an excellent job playing a corrupt cop that will make you want to reach into the screen and punch him square in the face. Truly excellent stuff.

Shooting on location in Schenectady, NY, really paid off for Pines, as the forest-surrounded town is absolutely gorgeous. Director Derek Cianfrance does a great job of showing the grungy beauty of the carnival Luke works for in the early scenes of the movie. There are also some excellent scenes of Gosling on his motorcycle driving through the beautiful forests of eastern New York.

Despite its sometimes incredibly disjointed story, there’s a lot to love in Pines. Whether it be the solid script, stellar performances from Gosling and Co., or the gorgeous scenery, you’ll find something to admire in this film. Pines may be a little bit close to the sun in terms of ambition, but by no means does it crash and burn.

The Place Beyond the Pines is rated R for language throughout, some violence and teen drug and alcohol use. It opened in theaters March 29 and is due for DVD release this summer.

Score: 4 out of 5 feathers
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liota, Rose Byrne
Length: 2 hrs. 20 min.

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