DVD Review: The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines is a drama set in present day middle America where the lives of two unique characters crash directly into each other and then repeat. On one side a young stunt rider trying to make a buck, on the other a Policeman trying to make a name. Similar to Paul Haggis’ 2004 release of “Crash” you are taken through a drama that is emotionally tense while you try to play detective and connect the dots.
Without spoilers this movie surprised me. It will be hard to give this review depth without uncovering key elements so we’ll stick to the performances and let you watch the movie to unravel the storyline. From the promotion and pre-publicity I definitely thought I had the story figured out but the movie took me down a path I wasn’t prepared for.
Ryan Gosling gives a deeply resonant portrayal of Luke, a conflicted young man who has found his niche as a stunt-driver and then wakes up to discover he has a baby son to a past relationship. The only highway to self-sufficiency seems to be in robbing banks when Robin played by Ben Mendelsohn tells him how his riding skills can provide the ideal grab and run routine.
In Eva Mendes’ portrayal we find Romina, the lady caught in the middle of the anguish trying to simply get by. Now living with Kofi played by Mahershala Ali, she tries to protect her new nest from the old love interest which provokes some emotional encounters. For me this was the first movie where we started to see the depth that Bradley Cooper can bring to a role. He plays the ambitious Policeman Avery Cross who has lived in the shadow of his father, a judge played by Harris Yulin. While squeaky clean by intent the ambition of Avery certainly asks you to question his motives as the story unfolds.
Supporting roles from class acts like Rose Byrne, Bruce Greenwood and Ray Liotta certainly bolster the moody atmosphere that comes through the movie. Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan play younger members of the family that you will need to watch to see if the apple does fall far from the tree. DeHaan has to be an actor to keep a close eye on after this movie and his key role in Chronicle.
Director Derek Cianfrance co-wrote the movie with Ben Coccio and I can only hope we see more from this pairing. I felt there was a small loss of momentum in the middle of the movie but overall it started well and finished better and that’s what a great story is meant to do.
Rating: R16 Violence,offensive language and drug use.