FILM REVIEW: The Place Beyond The Pines

The-Place-Beyond-the-Pines-Wallpaper-01 The Place Beyond the Pines shares many elements with the director Derek Cianfrance debut film ‘Blue Valentine’ which was released to great acclaim.

The film is divided into three parts with two crashing into one another. We are introduced to Handsome Luke, a tattooed motorcycle performer who returns to a small town a year after a brief affair to find that he fathered a child. With this information he transitions into what he believed was taking responsibility but instead becomes a spiral into something that ripples into the future.

Ryan Gosling is an amazing actor and this is his second collaboration with Cianfrance. But I have a real problem with this ‘realism’ form of acting where he is in fact basically the same character almost as he was in Blue Valentine.


His relationship with Eva Mendes did have chemistry in the film, playing Romina, the mother of his child she plays the responsible woman split between doing right by her son and boyfriend and wanting to be with Luke. But it’s such a shame that her entire role is essentially a quiet and teary character that all this is happening to yet she has no power to affect anything.

When the lives of Luke crash with Avery Cross played by Bradley Cooper we being a new story of power, expectations, corruption and guilt.

I have to admit I was quietly surprised with Cooper. He played a character that so wanted to make the choices of his life his own yet allowed himself to get sucked into a corrupt situation. But this is not the focus of the film; the focus in this part is the relationship between men, between his father and himself and as a father himself to his own son.


For the final part we have the effects of our pasts meeting with disastrous consequences, holding the sins on the fathers.

This film possesses a lot of merit. It’s visually beautiful, again shot like ‘Blue Valentine’ in a kind of cold reality which has become very fashionable for independent films.

The direction of the film really is a thoughtful one travelling through lives and time with consideration as well as emotion.  the theme of the film is very present, the ‘role’ of a father or father figure is questioned in various ways and really makes you consider how much a father can build your own self as a man in life.

The film does also lack fluidity. It lacks explanation and many things are left on loose strings. Maybe this is intentional but given that it is a very long film running at a slow pace not having pieces together makes it at times unsatisfactory to watch.


Out of all the characters in the film one in particular stood out for me the most. Played by the absolutely incredible Ben Mendelsohn, Robin Van Der Zee is a man alone with a garage inviting Luke to live and work alongside with him. They spend time together with Robin supporting Luke and suggests robbing banks to support his son. Even when Luke becomes desperate to rob more and Robin refuses to be part of it he still possesses an almost fatherly presence and concern for Luke, maybe the most fatherly Luke has ever experienced. Mendelsohn has a magnetic quality that he gives each character and he is an almost flawed but true father figure out of all the characters in the film.

A contemplating film about the roles of fathers. The choices we make for love, what is expected of us and the consequences of all our actions travelling through time.

The Place Beyond The Pines in cinemas now.