The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines

(MA) Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper

Ryan Gosling stars as Luke a talented, yet emotionally stunted motorcycle rider in a travelling carnival who discovers by accident that he has a son. Feeling a sense of responsibility, he quits his job and starts to look for work to support mother and son.

Unfortunately the way he intends to provide for the family is through crime, which puts him on a course to cross paths with Avery (Bradley Cooper) a cop dealing with his own obligations toward family.

Fifteen years later, Luke and Avery’s sin’s will be visited on the head’s of their sons and is what gives the film it’s thematic through line.

Most movies have three acts: the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution. There’s a protagonist and an antagonist, and along the way these characters typically confront obstacles, experience a big twist, come to a crisis point, and experience some kind of wrap-up.

In this case, these conventions give way to a more fluid approach to storytelling. Director Derek Cianfrance lets the role of protagonist and antagonist move and shift between his characters and the story structure almost works. Sometimes the film feels like interlocking short stories, each with its own lead. The fact that the film spans time, means it can clearly demonstrate that actions – of theft, of careless flings, of seemingly random and small choices – have consequences and can irrevocably alter lives.

Despite some heavy-handed symbolism there is something about The Place Beyond The Pines that sits with you after you see it.

The Place Beyond the Pines ask us to walk a tricky line: with the characters, we must sort out how to live in a world where the right thing is rarely the most attractive thing. Not that right and wrong are ambiguous; rather, we squirm, suspecting that confronted with the same choice, we, too, would have a hard time taking the righteous path.

The Place Beyond the Pines is a sprawling and ambitious film. Presented in three linked sections, the story studiously avoids many of the plot structures and rhythms we’re accustomed to.  Its length and ponderous pace, though arguably flaws in some respects, allow for an unusually thoughtful reflection on ideas of masculinity, compromise and consequence.

It’s good for us as viewers to experience that along with the characters which makes the film worthy of your time.

Adrian Drayton


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