The Place Beyond the Pines

“The Place Beyond the Pines” – this is not a heist movie.

Not having seen writer director Derek Cianfrance’s much acclaimed “Blue Valentine” or, anything starring Ryan Gosling, I decided to find out what the buzz was all about.

Beyond the Pines, is at the very least, an interesting film. It has a decidedly off kilter structure, consisting of three distinct chapters. The film makes a larger, slightly obvious point that decisions have consequences further down the line than one can imagine.


The story begins with Ryan Gosling’s character, “Handsome Luke” a danger seeker, motorbike carny, touring the land doing a risky motorcycle act. He runs into an old fling, played subtly by a surprising Eva Mendes. He finds out that she has had his child and decides to step up and “care for” the kid, even though there is no apparent objective need to do so.

He goes a step further by robbing banks to scratch this character driven itch. Of course, this is a really bad decision, one which through the coincidental involvement of rookie cop Avery, played well enough by Bradley Cooper, will have far reaching consequences – for all involved, for many years to come. Thus the wheels are set in motion that will crush the  generations, or will they? It’s an ambitious story, and emotionally gripping.

My only beef is that practically all the characters in the movie seem to make really bad decisions all the time, therefore the rather somber effects are to be expected. There is but little light at the end of the tunnel.

Still, the acting is above par, the film is beautifully lit and scored and it certainly makes for an atmospheric masterpiece. There is a real sense of claustrophobic foreboding that these ghost of Christmas past will not let things lie.

As stated above, I have not seen Blue Valentine, although I now definitely want to, but it appears that from the microcosm of a single relationship, Derek Cianfrance really wanted to expand his range, the scope of the story. This leads to the film feeling slightly disconnected and forced at times. Yet, I still give it a full thumbs up.