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article imageReview: Ride into ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 12, 2013 in Entertainment
‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ is the only refuge for a series of men plagued with the weight of their decisions and the choices of their fathers.
In a trilogy, three related but individually complete stories are conveyed in three separate installations. In a triptych, three art panels are viewed side-by-side individually and as a whole. The Place Beyond the Pines is an unconventional interpretation of both of these concepts.
Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) was the motorbike star of a traveling carnival. The last time he was in Schenectady, he met Romina (Eva Mendes) and their affair resulted in a baby boy named Jason. When Luke returns and learns about their son, he decides to do the right thing. He quits the show and tries to settle down in town to support Romina and Jason. But with few employable skills, Luke turns to robbing banks to make ends meet. Unwittingly, his destiny is intertwined with Officer Avery Cross’ (Bradley Cooper) career path. After public recognition for his bravery, Avery is introduced to widespread police corruption that sets him on a course to clean up the force. Fifteen years later, Avery is running for U.S. Attorney General and his delinquent son, A.J. (Emory Cohen), is being arrested with Luke’s son Jason (Dane DeHaan) for drug possession.
This film is a trilogy rolled into one picture. Each of these stories could have been expanded to standalone, but are instead connected to create an overarching narrative of tragedy and discovery. Though told as they are together, they could have used some condensing. The triptych influence is derived from the rich colour palette and the idea that these are three stories arranged almost parallel to each other. Moreover, the recurrence of the same road bordered by tall trees throughout the tales is one of the chief links between them. A great visual representation would be the same lane captured on canvas with each the motorcycle, car and bicycle travelling the road.
The unfortunate part of this script is the stories have been seen numerous times before. Luke is the bad boy trying to make good; Avery is the golden boy turned whistleblower plagued by a guilty conscience; and Jason’s tale is the confused search for meaning and revenge. Conversely, the fact that it is a strikingly executed film elevates the picture to some level above mediocrity.
The above mentioned endeavour is also supported by a mostly stellar cast. Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance reunites with Gosling for his follow-up project. The opening appearance of Gosling’s tattoo-covered, naked torso sets the stage for his dark, troubled stare and soft interior. He’s the bad boy with a sensitive side just trying to do the best he can. Coupled with some anger management issues, Luke’s journey is sure to be a stormy one. Gosling is thoughtful in the role, allowing his voice to become high-pitched in stressful situations and seamlessly transitioning from calm to quietly outraged to calm again in a manner that is both frightening and impressive.
Cooper’s character is similar emotionally, even though his background is poles apart. But there’s more insecurity behind Avery’s actions than Luke’s. And in spite of not knowing his father, Jason turns out to be very similar to him. DeHaan appears either innocent or mischievous, just depending on the angle of his head or the look in his eyes. It’s a valuable trait that he uses to its full potential here.
Underneath all the drama, there are glimmers of greatness; but it just doesn’t break all the way through.
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes
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