Every once in a while a movie comes along whose plot line must be seen and not heard (about), and The Place Beyond the Pines is such a film. With a series of events that unravel in a life-mimicking fashion, filmmaker Derek Cianfrance, (Blue Valentine), takes movie-goers on a journey, beyond the pine trees, that is well worth taking.
The Place Beyond the Pines begins with following Luke, (Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March), a motorcycle driver who performs stunts with a traveling carnival. Upon finding out that he has a child with former fling, Romina, (Eva Mendes, We Own the Night), Luke decides to give up his job, settle down, and stick around to help raise his now one-year-old son. However, now unemployed and desperate for cash, Luke then uses his “special skill-set” to resort to a life of crime. A life that introduces him to Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper, Limitless).
Just six months on the force, Avery finds himself in at the center of attention due to his involvement with the high-profile criminal Luke, but it doesn’t take long for his corrupt colleagues to try and exploit his situation. Backed into a desperate situation himself, it soon becomes evident that Avery and Luke, while on different sides of the law, aren’t that different at all. And as their one-year-old sons get older, the family pathology takes us on its own journey to echo just that.
Well-crafted, The Place Beyond the Pines is reminiscent of an eerie ballad on the dark side of life. The side that can spin out of control when people feel backed against a wall and act out from a sense of desperation. It’s a thoughtful story, that’s thoughtfully produced. Every aspect of production is delicately constructed and deliberate, and the performances given by every member of the cast is simply superb.
In its depiction of life, The Place Beyond the Pines will sometimes ask movie-goers to deal with the emotions associated with painful events like loss, which can rub some audience members the wrong way; but also like life, it contains elements of hope. And in the end, seeing how that the family pathology that plays out beyond the pines doesn’t just exist there, but in every part of our society, makes it a movie well worth watching .
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