The Place Beyond the Pines


Ryan Gosling is following the “Leonardo DiCaprio career plan”: star in a hugely successful romance (Titanic in Leo’s case; The Notebook in Gosling’s) follow up with a couple mediocre flicks with critics writing off your career as being nothing more than a pretty face for your female fans to idolize (The Beach, The Man in the Iron Mask for DiCaprio; Stay, Fracture for Gosling) and then reinvent yourself as critically-acclaimed “thinking man’s” action hero (Gangs of New York, Inception, The Departed for DiCaprio; Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, and hopefully the upcoming Only God Forgives for Gosling). It’s an interesting transformation to note.

To clarify, The Place Beyond the Pines isn’t an action movie. Ryan Gosling’s character simply acts as if he is the star of one, forgetting (or ignoring) that such a role in the real world has consequences. To that effect, a central theme running through the film is roles and appearances, and how often it is that the two don’t mesh up. Gosling’s character is misguided (he does rob banks by motorcycle) but his intention – to be there to support his family – is noble. The role he covets is a loving father-figure. The appearance he gives is that of a thrill-seeking ne’er-do-well and criminal. Likewise, Bradley Cooper’s character covets power and prestige, eyeing the role of Attorney General. His appearance is that of a heroic cop and family man, masking the unsavoury methods he used to get there and the disastrous effect it had on his marriage and son. It’s heavy stuff.

The actions of the two leads cause consequences that ripple throughout the film’s carefully realized world. Unfortunately, it can be a bit artificial and forced – especially when the third part of the story relies on the chance meeting of two characters. I’m not saying such a coincidence couldn’t happen, but in the context of a film like this, you can clearly see the director’s strings – which distracts a bit from the message. That, and the mysteriously forever young characters (the film jumps forward quite a few years into the future…where most of the major players haven’t aged at all), hurts it a bit.

Flawed, but fascinating.

Grade: B+

Sidenote: It does feature a score that is my favourite of the year so far – take a listen for yourself.


One Response to The Place Beyond the Pines

  1. Nostra says:

    Really loved this movie. I understand some of the criticism a lot of people had on the third part, but it is one of my favorites of the year.

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