The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)I’ve been looking forward to catching The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), if only to see Ryan Gosling in action, always making an impact whenever he is on-screen. Well this time here is shorter than I expected. A brave move by Derek Cianfrance who worked previously with Gosling on Blue Valentine (2010) who spreads the impact of a month in the life of Luke (Gosling) over 16 years, how the actions of two men affect all those around them. 

Even though Gosling gets top billing his time on-screen is fleeting in comparison to Bradley Cooper who really impressed me in the first straight role I’ve seen him in. With Luke with have another man who can handle himself, after the stunt driver from Drive (2011), independent and dangerous, with a heart deep down. His heart is in the right place, even if his fists isn’t. On leaving the circus as a stunt biker he wants to provide for the son his only just discovered. Being told by his only friend Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) to channel his skills to rob banks. Something that will later lead to his demise 45 mins into the film, muck like the ill-fated Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) Psycho 1960) killed off in the first half hour. This could both divide or bring and audience closer to the narrative as police officer  Avery Cross (Cooper) on patrol intercepts Luke in the only scene they share together, passing on the baton of the film from one to another. 

Becoming about Avery and his recovery from the shooting that takes out Luke so soon. Surrounded by family who have not had him around since the arrive of his own son. Wanting to return to work, a world that has a few corrupt cops led by Deluca (Ray Liotta) and Doc Crowley (Luca Pierucci) who go to the home of Romina (Eva Mendes) who Luke was trying to provide for. The off duty cops search the house for cash that was stolen. Invading their privacy and grief, whilst at the same time acting as a wake-up call for Avery a by the book cop, which smells heavily of Serpico (1973) playing out for a good half our before a sneaky deal is broken leading into the last third of the film.

A third which really takes sometime to get used to, as we move to the next generation, the sons of the men who we first met in the 1990’s, both 17 years, both from fragmented families. AJ (Emory Cohen) and Alex (Alex Pulling) meeting in high school, just by coincidence (well not really being in the same neighbourhood), one with a father who’s hardly in his life, having taken to drugs, whilst the other is beginning a life of petty crime, not really knowing who his real dad was. It feels like a little contrived at first putting them both together. Handled so well allowing the past of their fathers to catch-up and come full circle, the past was never really dealt with, a man was killed in the line of duty, not something that could have been avoided. It’s Alex who really has to deal with his past as he learns more about his dad, finally vengeance is being sought and delivered. Having been on hold all his life, closure is at hand. Leading to a confrontation that reminded me of Miller’s Crossing (1990) where scores were settled and lies were hidden. 

I could say the film is original, but it’s not when you break it down begging, borrowing from other films to allow this otherwise fresh film alive. Maybe it’s a clever way of progressing the story. It shows the harsh reality of family life living with crime, from either side of that world, the police and criminals and those who are directly affected by their actions. Resolutions are sometimes left lingering if we just carry on and don’t deal with how they can change us. Was it worth the wait really when Gosling was killed off not even half way in? Yes and no, he was the main draw for me, yet his departure allows things to continue, they maybe partly recycled elements from other films which I can forgive to an extent too. 

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One response

  1. The cast is great and they more than elevate the material they’re working with. However, that material does get a bit over-dramatic by the end and felt like I was watching a soft-core soap opera. Good review Tim.

    June 5, 2014 at 5:30 pm

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