The Place Beyond The Pines – Family

Derek Cianfrance‘s follow-up to the bittersweet  Blue Valentine is the generational epic The Place Beyond The Pines. The film reunites him with Ryan Gosling, who delivers a riveting performance as a bad boy biker. This ambitious melodrama starts off as an intimate character study, but finishes as a triptych about fathers, sons and sins that can’t be escaped.

The Players:

  • Director: Derek Cianfrance
  • Screenwriters: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
  • Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Emory Cohen, Dane DeHaan, Ben Mendelsohn,
    Mahershala Ali, Ray Liotta
  • Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt
  • Music: Mike Patton

The Plot:

A motorcycle stunt rider (Gosling) turns to robbing banks to provide for his lover (Mendes) and their child. The decision puts him on a collision course with a rookie cop (Cooper) who’s navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective (Liotta).

The Good:

  • Ryan Gosling: It’s no surprise that Gosling’s performance is the best thing about Pines. As Luke, he’s magnetic. His head-to-toe tattooed character has a short temper and an unlimited amount of ripped T-shirts. Luke has a lot of bottled up emotions, which requires Gosling to show a lot without showing a lot. He can and does.
  • The Sons: The last part of this three-chapter film centers on Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan. Their performances make you feel uncomfortable, but it’s all intentional. They play angsty teens with serious daddy issues. Although their characters and stories aren’t as compelling as Gosling’s, they put up a damn good fight.
  • Camera Work: Pines is part thriller, and part drama. Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography captures both flawlessly. He gets up close and personal when he needs to; and zooms out for those thrill-filled scenes to let the action breath.

The Decent:

  • Cianfrance’s Vision: Cianfrance has said that Pines was born out of the idea that his son would be affected by his actions. For the most part, the film does focus on the sins of fathers and how their sons can’t escape them. The beginning is captivating and the ending, though less intriguing, does fit into the overall theme. But the middle takes a questionable detour…
  • The Middle: Pines starts off as an intimate film, focusing on the struggles of a frustrated father who happens to be a carnival stunt driver. The middle steers away from this with Cooper’s Avery, which is fine at first. Cooper gives a solid performance. He too is like a caged tiger. But Pines abruptly switches from family drama to crime-thriller and stays there for a while. We’re introduced to a whole new set of characters. This layer would’ve played better as a solo movie. It doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the film.
  • The Length: Pines covers a span of 15 years. Cianfrance tries to flesh out the story as best as he can, but there’s a lot that doesn’t belong. Had he cut the corrupt cop element, it would have been tighter and more compelling.


Gosling’s charismatic performance is the best part of The Place Beyond The Pines. The film has its faults, sure. It’s too long and somewhere Cianfrance gets distracted by Ray Liotta’s mean face. But the ambitious filmmaker starts strong and finishes steady. He tells a good story and makes an interesting point.

The Rating: 8/10

The Place Beyond The Pines opens in select theaters March 29, 2013.

Photo Gallery:


Will you be seeing The Place Beyond The Pines this weekend?