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The Place Beyond The Pines - Review

The Place Beyond The Pines

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DEREK Cinefrance delivers his most ambitious film to date with The Place Beyond The Pines, a sweeping crime epic that grips emotionally.

Spanning two generations and a number of years, Cinefrance’s film bears a lot of resemblance to the character thrillers of the ’70s in the way it examines the repercussions of crime, fathers and sons and corruption.

And while perhaps not as lasting as his emotionally devastating last film, Blue Valentine, it’s an absorbing, sometimes surprising and always thoughtful piece of cinema shot throughout with great performances.

Primary among those is Ryan Gosling as Luke, a motorcycle stuntman working at a fairground, who suddenly finds he has a son with one of his former lovers (Eva Mendes). Quitting his job and going to work with a local mechanic (Ben Mendelsohn), Luke is encouraged to utilise his biker skills by robbing banks to finance his child support.

This, in turn, puts him on a collision course with Avery (Bradley Cooper), an ambitious blue collar cop whose involvement in Luke’s case eventually exposes widespread corruption within his own ranks and a promotion opportunity.

The consequences of both men’s actions during this time filter down to their respective sons (played by Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen) years later.

Admittedly, there are problems with Cinefrance’s film that mean it starts much stronger than it finishes and which threatens to feel a little too contrived at times. But there’s no denying the film packs a powerful punch and isn’t afraid to make tough choices. There is a lot of emotional complexity at play, which pulls viewers in a number of different directions.

Gosling, as ever, has a magnetic presence as Luke, carrying an almost McQueen like cool during his early scenes, before replacing that with increased volatility and desperation. But Cooper is great too, embodying his cop with an early decency and burning ambition that eventually takes its own toll on the ones he loves (not to mention guilt for certain misdemeanours). It’s a great way to follow his Oscar nomination for Silver Linings Playbook.

There’s eye-catching support, too, from the likes of Ray Liotta, DeHaan, Mendes and Mendelsohn, which only enhances the film’s ability to hook you in.

Cinefrance, for his part, drops in several set pieces that are as gritty as they are tense (and all the more realistic for it), while ensuring that most of his starry cast get their moment to shine. He also works hard to avoid making things feel too contrived or melodramatic while taking time to examine the issues central to the film’s themes.

The result is another hugely absorbing piece of filmmaking from one of independent American cinema’s richest talents that has so multiple reasons to see it.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 140mins
UK Release Date: April 12, 2013