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Film Review: The Place Beyond The Pines

The Place Beyond The Pines


From the director of Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance, A Place Beyond the Pines is a generation-hopping, heart-wrenching crime drama, a story of paternal legacy, structured in triptych fashion. It’s classic cops and robbers involving two very different families with both perspectives explored.


Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Ray Liotta
Bruce Greenwood
Dane DeHaan
Emory Cohen
Eva Mendes
Mahershala Ali
Mahershalalhashbaz Ali
Robert Clohessy
Rose Byrne

Dead Good Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Certificate (UK): 15


Sectioned into three parts, the first focuses on Luke Glanton (Gosling), a tattooed, chain-smoking motorbike stuntman who runs into a past lover, Romina (Mendes) and discovers he has a baby son, Jason. Glanton quits his job and begins rampaging around town robbing banks with the aim of supporting Romina and his son. Cianfrance releases a pent-up energy in his direction with understated but earthy bike chases, whilst Gosling plays the jagged, troubled Glanton with a cool calm. On Glanton’s last robbery attempt, he is pursued by Avery Cross (Cooper) to tragic effect. The narrative then shifts dramatically onto the life of Cross who becomes a decorated hero and discovers the murky undercurrent of the police force (queue chilling performance from Roy Liotta).

Through a time span of 15 years we follow the slightly less pacey life of Cross as he works toward becoming New York’s high office of attorney general. We’re also introduced to his son, AJ (Cohen), a disengaged high schooler suffering the effects of his parents’ divorce and living in a monotonous town. It’s here that the length of the film dawns on the viewer. Two hours in and still no clear end in sight to the film’s plot.

The last third of the film plays out the unlikely friendship between schoolmates AJ and the teenage Jason (DeHaan) as Jason discovers the identity of his real father and the story and perpetrator behind his father’s death. The moody, detached character of Glanton is mirrored in Jason. The innocence and violence of his character unfurl and reveal a fate greater than the characters themselves: a tragic legacy passed down father to son.

Our Verdict

On entering the cinema I was ready to view a full throttle action-packed blockbuster. The trailers and cast hinted at a film that could be a sequel to Drive with Eva Mendes adding to some romantic subplot. I left feeling cheated. Cheated but not disappointed. Though two and a half hours long, the high class acting (particularly by the evil Liotta), the strong narrative concepts and the tension that runs high throughout were highly absorbing. The moralistic plot that draws together themes of masculinity, fatherhood, personal responsibility, inheritance and fate echoes that of Greek tragedy. Whilst it’s gritty, distinguished cinematography makes one think of a Dennis Lehane thriller. It’s a film with unreserved nerve laced with a lingering sadness. Dead Good recommends…

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