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The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines: Gosling & Cooper in Grand Tale of Fathers & Sons

  • Bradley CooperEva Mendes...
  • Action & AdventureDrama...
  • Derek Cianfrance
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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The Place Beyond the Pines: Gosling & Cooper in Grand Tale of Fathers & Sons

Every now and then, a film comes along and leaves one completely spellbound and utterly speechless long after the end-credits roll. The Place Beyond the Pines is one such example.  

Told in chapters, the story opens with the introduction of Luke Glanton (Gosling); a young motorcycle stunt driver working for a travelling carnival. During one of their stops in New York, he bumps into Ramona (Mendes); a girl with whom he’d had a one-night stand with during a previous rendezvous.  He soon learns that he is the father of Ramona’s son, and despite the fact that she is now sharing a life with a boyfriend, Luke is determined to do his part and find a way to provide and care for them. He quits the carnival and befriends low-end mechanic, Robin (Mendelsohn), who convinces Luke that his stunt-riding skills might come in handy in pulling bank robberies.

The decision to venture into the world of crime ultimately puts Luke on the radar of Avery Cross (Cooper); a young police officer, and new father, whose story is focused on in the second chapter. 

As the two men cross paths, their split-second decisions result in a life-altering moment that will not only have an impact on them, but on generations to come.

Director Derek Cianfrance –  who had previously worked with Gosling in heavy 2010 indie drama, Blue Valentine – steps up to a much bigger canvas this time and still manages to deliver another incredibly stirring work of art.  His carefully drawn world is compelling and unpredictable, and the unnerving and deeply moving score from composer, Mike Patton, only adds to the sense of dread that runs underneath the story’s surface the whole way through.  The consequences of one’s decisions is the primary theme in this grand narrative and Cianfrance – with the penning support of Ben Coccio and Darius Marder – tells it in a way that feels natural and organic.

The Place Beyond the Pines has already been tipped for Oscar success, partly due to the fact that Cianfrance has managed to draw out some of the best performances of the year.  Gosling – whose previous collaboration with the director proved to be some of his best work to date – is once again effortless, charismatic and utterly captivating. As a man who desperately wants to do the right thing, Gosling evokes an incredible amount of sympathy to his character, while Cooper – who is slowly making his way to Hollywood elite status – delivers another magnetic performance. Even Mendes, in the role of a torn and distraught single mother, is confident, poised and manages to hold her own throughout. 

Transfixing and poetic, The Place Beyond the Pines is truly one of a kind.  Viewers shouldn’t be detered by its two-hour-plus running time; great stories like these take time to develop into epics and this is worth every minute. 

Like This? Try

Drive (2011), Blue Valentine (2010), Brother Tied (1998)

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The title is taken from the name of the small New York town in which the film is set. The name 'Schenectady' is loosley derived from the Mohawk word for 'place beyond the pine plains'.

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