The Place Beyond The Pines


(out of 5)

This three-tiered epic saga begins with a circus stuntman (Ryan Gosling) rekindling an affair with a diner waitress (Eva Mendes) and discovering that she had his baby since they last saw each other.  Inspired to want to make a nuclear family out of the three of them, he begins robbing banks in order to take care of wife and child but, as can be expected, the law eventually catches up with him.  In the second story, a rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) is just beginning his career when he nabs a bad guy under murky circumstances, and while he does not hesitate to accept all the rewards of his actions, his conscience nags at him for what might possibly turn out to be a deal with the devil.  Fast forward to more than a decade later, and two young men with connections to the first two stories encounter each other and lead to a reckoning that this film wants us to see as the catharsis to undo all the emotional turmoil that has been building for so long.  The problem with this 140 minute disappointment, though, is that not much is built up in the time it takes to get to the climactic boiling point.  The characters don’t particularly draw you in, nor are their crises complex or captivating: Cooper does wonders with snappy dialogue or edgy humour, but give him a quiet role that relies on long takes of his clear blue eyes and you have a face that is more stymied than meditative.  Gosling provides his usual charisma as the bad boy with the heart of gold but we never really get to see his soul; besides, Mendes, who is wonderful, is undoubtedly better off without his character in her life, so his being taken away from her is not much of a tragedy and leaves the film with little else to hang its miserable weight on.  Derek Cianfrance’s prime goal appears to be the transmission of detail with subtlety (for example, Cooper’s ambition destroys his personal life but the changes are referenced and not explicitly labeled), but with so many missing elements the film lacks an emotional logic rather than a material one.

, ,

USA, 2012

Directed by

Story by Derek Cianfrance, , Screenplay by Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio,

Cinematography by

Produced by , , ,

Music by

Production Design by 

Costume Design by

Film Editing by ,

National Board of Review Awards 2013.

Toronto International Film Festival 2012

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