Friday, April 24, 2015

The Place Beyond the Pines Review

When the film opens, Luke Glanton is the hero. A brilliantly executed long take has us following close behind him as he walks through the grounds of a carnival, but he doesn't move with any urgency despite being told he is needed. He strolls with confidence and a swagger that announces to the world, they can wait. Past the flashing lights and the dangling prizes, the eyes of the public turn and watch him move past but he seemingly doesn't even notice. When he arrives at his destination, Luke Glanton receives an ovation fit for a celebrity. Handsome Luke and the Heartthrobs. His pulse doesn't even appear to pick up an extra beat. Luke Glanton is as cool as a cucumber.

Later on, a young, brave police officer receives the call that a bank robber is on the run near where he is located. Wrong place, wrong time. His name is Avery Cross, and that moment every officer must be ready for has come to fruition. His weapon is drawn and he may have to use it. A beautiful wife and a newborn son are waiting at home, but this intersection between good and evil could mean Avery is about to take his final breathe. Is it as black and white as good and evil though? Is either side ever so purely one or the other? A split second decision blurs these lines. The ground is covered in blood and a good man begins to associate with the corrupt. The life of a man ends and whether a sinner or saint, they leave behind a trail of tears from those that cared for him. The death of one has altered the fates of many.

15 years later, the lives of two teenage boys intersect almost impossibly. Two young men connected from the moment they were in diapers and yet they come together without even knowing the past. Jason and AJ. They are living with the ramifications of decisions made before they could even voice a single word. They are their father's sons. 

The Place Beyond the Pines is presented as a three-act play, with stories and characters overlapping in ways that will reverberate through time. While the narrative loses power and strength as it goes, with the story of Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) resembling what I would define as a masterpiece and the final act involving teenagers still living in the shadows of their fathers not quite matching up, I still feel the end result of this work by Derek Cianfrance is pretty remarkable, ambitious and compelling throughout. 

What I wrote above doesn't even begin to tell the whole story of these characters and their lives, the nuance that makes them complicated rather than cut and dry archetypes. If you haven't seen The Place Beyond the Pines yet, do so, and what you will see is an epic made on an indie budget. A sweeping story with an intimate scope. 

Most of all, you will see a great film.



  1. Stumbled upon this review and couldn't agree more. Saw this film early the year it came out and it stuck with me throughout the whole year to earn a high spot on my Top 10 that year. Truly a film that has you thinking about it long after you leave the theater.

    Consider me a follower :-)

    Feel free to check out my site if you'd like!

    1. Awesome, thank you so much Jordan. I really appreciate the kind words and the support. Glad we agree on this film, would love to hear more thoughts from you.

      In fact, I am off to check out your site now. Thanks again!