Cert: 15 Runtime: 140 mins Director: Derek Cianfrance Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendez
If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder
So the man that made Blue Valentine is back with Ryan Gosling. If you haven’t seen Blue Valentine please do. Derek Cianfrance has three of the best talents in cinema in his grasp, what does he make? The Place Beyond the Pines. The story follows 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.
Once the second act starts, the narrative focuses on Cooper and his family (just like the first act focused on Gosling and his family), and how he’s dealing with corruption within his department. Cooper’s character provides us with the morality of the film and shows us male vulnerability, in contrast to Gosling’s character. This is definitely one of Cooper’s best performances and he has made almost a flawless switch from comedy to serious drama. The third act takes place 15 years later and now focuses on the lives of both of their sons, and how their fathers’ actions from the past have impacted them. Fate plays a role in the film. Eva Mendes also gave what could possibly be her best performance ever. While her character wasn’t on-screen too often, she was the thread that binds the bones. She held the story lines together. And she did a damn good job of not overacting the emotional scenes, they were very genuine and believable. Ryan Gosling has mastered the type of character that has minimal dialogue and conveys his emotions and what he has to say through facial expressions and body language. You can tell Luke is a damaged man with a violent past. This is another great performance from Ryan. The film is so electric when Gosling is on-screen, and Cianfrance masterfully captured every chase scene, it just feels purely exhilarating. But that’s also one of the biggest reasons the film feels so much slower when he’s not on-screen. The energy is down. But, that doesn’t mean the pacing was bad at all. I actually thought the pacing was exactly how it needed to be.
A lot of people have said it would have worked better as a trilogy rather than a single film with all three stories rolled into it, and I agree but I also don’t agree. The story felt like it needed to be longer to let each individual storyline build itself up even more and provide more details, but at the same time it didn’t because, like I said, it was three generations in one.The film had a very gloomy tone and mood to it. But that’s exactly the type of feel and atmosphere I like. I’m a big fan of depressing dramas, and this was definitely that; but it was compelling. I thought the score by Mike Patton fit the film just right and I really enjoyed it–especially the song “Snow Angel”. It was haunting, yet striking. The cinematography by Sean Bobbitt was beautiful; every shot was excellent and very well-edited, too. Almost every scene was gorgeous to look at. I appreciated the camera-work a great deal. Visually gorgeous. It was a cinematic poem.Overall, I thought the film was a great telling of father-son relationships, legacy and men trying to find their identities. Shows the lengths we’ll go to take care of our families. It gives a stark look into fatherhood and how what you do can influence the ones around you, positively or negatively, so always keep that in mind in your everyday lives. It is a story filled with adrenaline rushes, love, heartbreak, suspense, consequence, how one moment can change everything forever, and, most importantly, a story about family. A beautiful tragedy.