By Joseph Pardo
Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine follow-up, The Place Beyond The Pines, brings to the silver screen an emotional and powerful film.
A mysterious and mythical motorcycle racer, Luke, (Ryan Gosling) drives out of a traveling carnival globe of death and whizzes through the backstreets of Schenectady, New York, desperately trying to connect with a former lover, Romina, (Eva Mendes) who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider’s son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross, (Bradley Cooper) looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. The sweeping drama unfolds over fifteen years as the sins of the past haunt the present days lives of two high school boys wrestling with the legacy they’ve inherited. The only refuge is found in the place beyond the pines. –Studio Canal
The Place Beyond The Pines was a magnificent third feature from director Derek Cianfrance. The performances were outstanding and it was a great story. The three act structure was executed brilliantly and they were all tied together in a very satisfying way. The opening tracking shot was absolutely brilliant and established Ryan Gosling’s character without any dialogue. The soundtrack, by Mike Patton, was impeccable and captured the tone of the film.
The Place Beyond The Pines is divided into three parts, three parts each with a distinct message. The first is about becoming a father and wanting be a father, the second part is about trying not to be like your own father and ending up not being a father at all, and the final part is the tale of sons and how they grow up because of their fathers.
Gosling, who plays the would be father, Luke Lanton, doing what he thinks is best, is at times aggravating and intensely emotional. It’s a great performance, and a tricky one to master. But Gosling gets it, and turns in one of his best performances. That’s not to say the other performances aren’t equally as grand as well. Eva Mendes dishes out some of her best work in years, playing a woman torn between her desire to be with Luke, and to have a normal family life with her husband. Bradley Cooper, whose performance is quite possibly his best yet, is playing a cop torn between his want for justice and his powerful ambition. Newcomer, Dane Dehaan, steals the show with his performance in some of the film’s most gut-wrenching moments as Jason.
Derek Cianfrance’s style is completely unique, and incredibly effective. He is one of the only directors that delivers a spectacular storyline and amazing performance, every time. The Place Beyond The Pines is a quiet moving character drama, expansive in it’s scope yet intensely personal at its core.
In an interview with director Derek Cianfrance, he stated that he “always wanted to make a triptych film” but he “never knew how it would come together.” But in the end the inspiration for this film was his son. That is what brings the father-son emotions into the feature. “My wife is from Schenectady” said Cianfrance “and Schenectady actually means in Native American ‘the place beyond the pines’”, which is were the movie gets its title. Cianfrance said that when making the film, his producer had came to him and said he had interviewed the perfect kid for AJ and the kid said ‘no’ that he felt that the role of Jason was his role, so Cianfrance said screw him and went looking for another guy. After months of searching for the actor to play Jason Derek said “f**k it, lemme see the tape” of the guy who wanted the role and after he watched the casting video he knew that Dane DeHaan was Jason. Cianfrance admitted that what he really felt the film was about was legacy, and passing the torch from generation to generation. And I think he is right.
The story of the film is really well told and does a great job dealing with integrating the feel of multiple genres. This film will appeal to anyone who wants to watch captivating performances, intense drama, and a great story! I highly recommend it!