The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

A crime drama with a somewhat poetic title. Involving corrupt cop and a bank robber. I really did not know what to expect from the film.

Fair Warning: Might contain spoiler, read at your own risk

Summary from IMDb (because yes, it is hard to make a summary without spoiler for this one):
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.

Reading the summary alone would not make this movie something i’d be dying to watch. I have to admit the reason why i wanted to watch it on the first place is seeing Ryan Gosling and Dane DeHaan name on the bill, of course the fact that Bradley Cooper‘s in it did not hurt either. Of course i was also a little intrigued when i know that it’s also Gosling second collaboration with director Derek Cianfrance. The two previously worked together in Blue Valentine (2010), a dark yet poignant film that i enjoyed. The Place Beyond the Pines is Cianfrance’s third feature film.

The film is quietly unexpected. It’s linear storyline is divided into three acts. Each acts sort of focus on different character of the film although still following the same chain of events, just like marathon runners passing the batons from one to the next. The movie opened with Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling), a daredevil stunt in a state fair looking for a chance to redeem himself worthy to his ex girlfriend and a son he just found out about. He ditch his life as a stuntman instead he looks for a way to earn quick money as a way to earn his place in his son’s life. Along with his friend, he successfully robbed a bank only to be further rejected by his ex. In sheer frustration he robed another bank but ended up being taken down by a cop. The cop in question is Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a low rank officer who suddenly gain hero status after single handedly took the bank robber down. He has ambition that blinded him from other priorities in his life. 15 Years down the road, we will see Avery on the heat of his political career and his son AJ Cross (emory Cohen) crosses path with Jason. Little did they know Jason is the estranged son of the late Luke Glanton.

The movie in general is a cycle of karmic retribution. How the course of chain reaction played out as a consequence of their action. The movie capitalize in subtle play of emotion successfully captured by the beautiful shots of Sean Bobbitt. With haunting musical accompaniment from the hand of Mike Patton. One of my favorite was when Luke Glenton was in church during his son baptism, his longing and pain was captured so well, of course Ryan Gosling acting is a factor that must not to be undermined, ever!

Gosling and Cooper are two of today’s most significant Hollywood Actors, and both bode well in their respective roles. Gosling, this time bleached blond with prison tattoo scattering across his body, looks tattered in his torn jeans and thin shirt, yet owned the scene as he stalked along in his quiet magnetism. I enjoyed his emotion brewing just under the surface until it blows up and drove him to an unfortunate end. He mesmerizes me ever since the long tracking shot of the movie opening, without uttering a single words, we got a strong sense of his character just from seeing him walk through the State Fair to do his stunt. Even though he only exist in the first third of the movie he still left his mark and remain unforgettable. Oh and might i add, prison tats never look this hot since Joe Dallesandro. Bradley playing a low rank beat cop in a physical look I’ve never seen before! I seriously thought he looked like a less geeky, slightly more handsome twin of Steve Carrell, no offense, i adore Carrell. His character mainly deals with guilt, and he choose to evade his guilt, cowardly hiding behind his blantant ambition.

Relatively new comer DeHaan also gave a performance worthy against the two more senior lead actors. I saw him for the first time in Chronicle (2012) and since then I’ve been anticipating his upcoming roles in The Amazing Spider-Man upcoming sequel (better Osborn Jr. than Franco?) and Kill Your Darlings (along with Daniel Radcliffe). DeHaan role here is not too different with his previous one in chronicle, an adolescent figure with ambivalent emotion. The rest of the cast also gave a good performance in supporting role, like Eva Mendez, as the sultry waiter torn from her love and her dream of better life, and Ben Mendelsohn as Robin, that brought the trigger of the first problem and also set an action towards the conclusion.

These ambiguity of character is also a recurring theme of the movie. Luke, Avery, and Jason are not innocent, yet they are culpable either. The grayness and shadiness of these character goes well with the ambiguity of the story. We are not taking sides, we, viewers, are merely silent witness of their life story, as it unravel and sets in motion.

The title is the English meaning of the city of Schenectady, NY (which is the location of the film), which is derived loosely from a Mohawk word for “place beyond the pine plains”. The so called plains was featured prominently as a significant location where the movie most prominent scene took place. It is the place where Luke met Robin and made the decision turn his life around, it’s when Avery faced his options, and it’s where Jason demands justice to Avery. So the pines actually represent the bleak and helplessness of each character, when they are driven out of desperation to make decisions they don’t want to make.

The Place Beyond The Pines is yet another bleak and poignant film from Cianfrance. An ambitious film portraying a realistic story of working class family defeating with inopportune choices involving career, monetary, and life decision in general. It’s a riveting tale, told in a linear structure yet the triptych structures made the film stood out. With great actors and great directions, the film become an emotionally charged piece, filled with subtle allegory of humanity. A profoundly moving piece indeed! :)


GENRE Crime, Drama
DIRECTOR Derek Cianfrance | PRODUCER Lynette Howell, Sidney Kimmel, Alex Orlovsky, Jamie Patricof | WRITER Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder | MUSIC Mike Patton | CINEMATOGRAPHER Sean Bobbitt | EDITOR Jim Helton, Ron Patane | STUDIO Hunting Lane Films, Pines Productions, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Silverwood Films | DISTRIBUTOR Focus Features | COUNTRY United States | RELEASE March 29, 2013 (United States) | BUDGET $15 Million | RATING R for Language, some violence, teen drugs and alcohol abuse, sexual reference
STARRING Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne

All Pictures taken from IMDb | Visit the Official Website.


7 thoughts on “The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

  1. I have the same score as you. And yes, I watched this to see Gosling but had no idea DeHaan was in it (a nice surprise!). Nice to know more about the title’s meaning. Great review!

    • a nice surprise indeed! :D
      i was wondering about the title at first since it seems like a weird title for a story about criminal etc google is your friend at time of curiosity :D

  2. Nothing against the cast at all, it’s just that I found myself getting less and less engaged with the story as it went along. Nice review.

    • it’s just not the movie for you then? :) i think this is why movies are wonderful personal experience, it would resonate differently for different people.
      thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment!

  3. Pingback: Monthly Digest: June 2013 | kinema kinema to karamel

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