Following the success of 2010’s Blue Valentine, director Derek Cianfrance has taken a three year break in recovery before deciding to direct and release The Place Beyond the Pines, a story very dissimilar to that of his previous romantic hit. With Ryan Gosling returning in the leading role, Cianfrance shows to continue his notable poetic style of storytelling but seemingly forgets to mould the finished product leaving a cumbersome conclusion of a plethora of loose themes.
With a confident and ambitious story at the helm, The Place Beyond the Pines does little to prove its worth juggling too many balls that all inevitably come tumbling down. The film follows Luke (Gosling) a motorcycle stunt rider who soon turns to robbing banks to provide support for his new born child, this choice puts him on a collision course with rookie cop Avery (Cooper), whose actions cause repercussions for the following story to unfold. Being very much the chronicle of protagonist Luke’s life the film is almost innately an epic drama that is undoubtedly let down by a totally underwhelming second act that does little to relate to the previous story; acting as a divided sub-plot that was totally unnecessary. The story was ambitious and engaging prior to this act however as further characters are introduced with further sub-plots, you find yourself being detracted from the quality story at hand in order to be diverted to a plot boasting very little but which holds frustrating importance to the proceeding act which proves to be just as devoid of emotion.
With actors of excellent quality helming the lead and supporting roles, this proves to be the films saving grace always providing realistic performances that are believable throughout. The protagonist Luke, despite being largely dislikeable with few relatable qualities, is acted with brilliant enthusiasm and flair by the increasingly impressive Ryan Gosling. Clouding his performance however is arguably the supporting performance of Ben Mendelsohn whom despite having a relatively small role acts with evident passion that aids his character, Robin, to become immediately involved within the story as new found friend of Luke. Both these characters being engrossing and interesting are prominent mostly in the first act making it by far the best of the well-defined three which could’ve stood alone (with some added tweaks) as a fantastic 90 minute drama. However as the film progresses holes appear and plot points are left untied to the frustration of the audience who simply want to revisit the simplicity and enjoyment of the first act.
Starting fantastically the film fizzles out to a small, yet still respectable; third act which is as unnecessary as it is cumbersome. Boasting humongous talent and a magnificently ambitious story, this film could’ve been so much more impressive but instead decides to confuse itself by trying to do too much and ending up doing very little at all.
7/10- Performances are fantastic but the threadbare plot provides a heavy burden.