Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ Review: A Gritty, Shocking and Emotional Drama

The Place Beyond The Pines is a beautiful, emotional and realistic story of how one man’s legacy comes full circle within the life of his son. Derek Clanfrance’s (Blue Valentine) film is not an easy one to watch; but when the film ends, you’ll walk out knowing that you just saw a remarkable and honest story.

Pines runs two hours and twenty minutes of your time, but I can assure you it earns every minute of it.

At the beginning of Pines, we are introduced to motorcycle stunt rider Luke (Ryan Gosling), who is part of a traveling circus. After his show in Schenectady, NY, where the majority of the film takes place, he sees Romina (Eva Mendes), a woman whom he had a casual fling with a year ago. While Luke is in town, he learns that he has a one-year-old son. Desperate to support his child and win Romina back, Luke robs banks in order to get fast cash.

One of Luke’s getaways goes wrong and Schenectady cop Avery (Bradley Cooper) chases him down, resulting in a catastrophic event which will affect both of their lives and families in the years to come.

Performances are fantastic across the film here and each actor deserves recognition. Gosling is fantastic (as always) and his character in Pines is reminiscent of his violent, yet emotional character in Drive. Even when Gosling is not on screen, his character has a presence throughout the film which makes it all the more better.

We’ve seen Bradley Cooper get serious in Silver Linings Playbook and the actor only proves his greatness and versatility in Pines. Cooper’s character is haunted by a careless decision he made, ultimately affecting his wife Jennifer (Rose Byrne) and young son.

Eva Mendes, normally known for her eye candy roles, proves what a dramatic actress she can be in this film. There is a particular scene where her and Gosling get into an argument about their son and I was blown away by her performance. I hope she does more roles like this in the future.

As wondrous as Clanfrance’s screenplay and his actors are, its Mike Patton’s gorgeous score that completes the film. The score comes in full force near the beginning of the film where Luke is riding his motorcycle down the narrow roads on the pine forest and its just breathtaking. The score comes in and out throughout the movie, but it’s the last shot of the movie where it comes full circle as we see Luke’s son (Dane DeHaan), now all grown up, riding down the same road his father did.

The Place Beyond The Pines is probably more brilliant than I’m even giving it credit for. Clanfrance and Coccio’s screenplay is detailed to perfection and Gosling, Cooper and Mendes gives some of the more memorable performances of the year.

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