Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81% (Critics) / 81% (Audience)
Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Written By: Derek Cianfrance and Ben Coccio
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan and Ray Liotta
Studio: Focus Features
Synopsis: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. (Source)
As the film is split into three connected but separate parts, the highlight is the first “chapter” that focuses on Ryan Gosling as the brooding stunt cyclist turned bank robber who decides to “shape up” as much as he can once he becomes a father. Gosling imbues this tragic character with a sadness and longing for family while always keeping a quiet fury bubbling underneath him. He does a really great job with this role.
The script and direction by Derek Cianfrance (and his co-writer Ben Ciccio) has so much potential that never seems to be fully addressed in my estimation. The tactic of doing each chapter as being so removed from the others made the film feel very disjointed and left me with this nagging feeling that there should have been more but that more never came to be. Perhaps if the stories of Gosling’s and Bradley Cooper’s characters had played out concurrently leading up to their fateful meeting then the movie would have felt more cohesive to me.
I also thought Eva Mendes was wasted in this movie, her character was just a foil for all of the men in the movies and never really was given anything to do that didn’t come from the actions of one of the men in her character’s life. And as bad as it was for Eva Mendes it was ten times worse for Rose Byrne.
The entire film came off the rails in the third chapter that focused on the sons. Aside from from a meandering story, neither of the sons were all that interesting as characters and their relationship with one another never really felt as if it built up enough for the big reveal to have as much emotional resonance as I assumed the filmmakers thought it should or would.
Final Verdict: The potential for this film to become a new classic was there but THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES never took that step to the next level and instead it was just an OK but infinitely forgettable movie, that features some really good acting performances, most notably by Ryan Gosling who dominates every scene he is in.
And that suburban white kid hip-hop affect that Emory Cohen was using as Bradley Cooper’s character’s son was the most annoying thing ever. I wanted to dropkick that kid right in the throat just to shut him up.