Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) and Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) are two men living on opposite sides of the track. Luke is a stunt biker who works at a travelling circus while Avery is well connected son of a Supreme Court judge who chose to become a cop in a small town police department. When Luke learns that he fathered a son with an old flame Romina (Eva Mendez), he leaves the circus and tries to make a decent living in order to provide for his family. However, things don’t turn out the way he planned and the next thing he knows, he is robbing banks to make ends meet. A single incident where their paths cross result in changes in their lives that ripple to their future and that of their sons.
The Place Beyond the Pines is presented as a three part crime drama that first focuses on the character of Gosling, then transitions to the character played by Cooper. The third part of the drama is where their two sons’ lives intertwine and the relationship between the characters is revealed.
Director Derek Cianfrance took the helm in this movie and judging by his indie roots (he also directed falling out of love movie Blue Valentine), there is a certain style to his approach to drama. For this movie, in particular, he focused on the development of the characters and he made it as close to real as possible. My favorite chapter was the first part about Luke. While tough on the surface, Gosling clearly translated Luke’s emotional depth when he prioritized his son above all else as soon as he learned of his existence. The family picture captured the bittersweet mood of the first chapter. The Avery Cross chapter delivered a dip in the momentum as nothing unique really happens in this segment. It however, makes audiences compare the two characters and the parallelism in their actions as they deal with corruption. Both men tried to do the right thing given the circumstances that life dealt them.
The last chapter was kind of dark. I didn’t much like the character of AJ (Emory Cohen), Avery’s son, but at the same time, considering his upbringing, audiences will still be compelled to make allowances for him. Jason on the other hand, was his complete opposite. I think that because of Gosling’s excellent performance at the beginning of the movie, whatever positive feelings the audience felt for him was immediately transferred to Jason, played by Chronicle standout (Dane Deehan).
As far as storytelling is concerned, The Place Beyond the Pines was a compelling drama. The story had a certain depth and just the right amount of realism to affect the audience on an emotional level. In terms of stunts, I should give credit to the stunt team for pulling off some great high speed motorcycle action. In contrast, the make up team deserves to be reprimanded for inconsistency. It completely bothered me that in the 15 year window in which the story progressed, Eva Mendez’s character was the only one who seemed to age. There were slight changes to Bradley Cooper’s appearance but they were so subtle and were only visible in close up that it was such a stark contrast to Eva Mendez’s look. She seemed to age more than 30 years instead of 15.
All in all, I would consider the Place Beyond the Pines a successful crime drama. I think the ending made sense although it could have been better. It just seemed that with a little more push, it could have done more to provide closure to the story.
The Place Beyond the Pines is an SM Cinema Exclusive being shown in SM theaters nationwide.