The Place beyond the Pines
Hollywood’s up-and-coming poster boy Ryan Gosling radically changes his appearance for this stylish, meandering crime drama, sporting extensive tattoos and dyeing his hair peroxide-blond. Ryan is Luke, a circus performer and motorbike enthusiast touring New York State with his carnival, shy and simple with good intentions. All this comes to an abrupt end when he finds out that his one-time lover, Romina (Eva Mendes) has had his child. Determined to do the right thing and provide support for the child, Luke starts robbing banks.
It all goes well until his mechanic sidekick panics after a run-in with the police, forcing Luke to use a sub-par motorbike, which sets the scene for a botched bank heist. After a violent chase with a policeman (Bradley Cooper), it all comes to a head. With little time to breathe, this story is over and the focus shifts to the cop, injured by Luke in the line of duty and forced to make some tough moral decisions.
Director Derek Cianfrance takes a punt here: following the non-stop, hard-hitting tale of Luke (a relentless roller-coaster of speed and insanity), the sudden switch to a cop drama takes time to accept and enjoy. From a wailing motocross bike to a sedate, Sunday drive in a sedan, it is a bit of a culture shock. The cop in question, Avery Cross, is a stereotypical good guy; his fight is against police corruption, with help from his Supreme Court judge father.
Mystifyingly this is not the final part, after 90 minutes we jump 15 years ahead, now following Avery’s son’s friendship with an unfortunate, aloof boy of the same age. This third episode goes full circle and ends the film in total cliché.
The Place beyond the Pines is a determined fable. The film struggles with pace after the first blistering section, actively getting slower as it goes on, and becoming almost unbearable in the last few minutes. If all the morals and hang-ups of the protagonists had not been signposted early on in their development, the film may have been more absorbing. As the credits roll, the opening shots of the carnival, the flickering lights, the long tracking shot, the excitement, the tension, all seem a lifetime ago.
The Place beyond the Pines is released nationwide on 12th April 2013.
Watch the trailer for The Place Beyond the Pines here: