{2jtab: Movie Review}

the Place Beyond the Pines - Movie Review


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5 Stars

Derek Cianfrance, who brought us 2010’s beautifully tragic Blue Valentine, again explores the seamy edges of family dysfunction with his The Place Beyond the Pines that premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Only this time, he shifts the train of his focus from that of a marriage’s heartbreaking destruction to one of an unbreakable bond between father and son.

Told in triptych structure, the three distinct parts of Cianfrance’s multi-generational story of ancestral lineage are appropriately threaded together in linear form, one part handing off to the next, rather than cross-cutting with flashbacks and time shifts. It’s a difficult technique to pull off successfully (the first casualty usually being consistent pacing), but we marvel at the seamlessness with which Cianfrance transitions his segments, and as a result, our anxiety of anticipating the story’s next move is heightened. There’s no security of a cushioning flashback to lessen the impact when bad things happen to the characters.

Gosling turns in yet another tour de force performance, this time as a roadside carnival motorcycle stunt rider who, by the pain on his face and the danger of his profession, we see is a walking contradiction - wounded and marred on the inside, but sporting an impenetrable suit of armor on the outside. As the traveling show makes its way back through Schenectady, New York, Luke hooks up with old flame Romina (Eva Mendes), who has his year-old son he knew nothing about. The moment Luke sees his child, his life is changed forever. He suddenly has a purpose, and his life a meaning. But with no real parenting skills, he teams with a partner-in-crime (played by Ben Mendelsohn) to rob banks in support of his family.

Their first heist is a brilliant little piece of filmmaking that bathes the remainder of the film in a pervading sense of doom and atmospheric tension. We learn a lot about the complexity of Luke’s character - his heartwarming instinct of wanting to do the right thing for his child countered by a dangerously cold-blooded unpredictability - as he takes over the bank before eventually escaping on his motorcycle. Visually, the robbery scene resembles the raw, voyeuristic reality and train wreck allure of an episode of Cops or Wildest Police Videos with no cuts and minimal editing. But the film’s subdued yet distinctive score - by Mr. Bungle’s Mike Patton - counters the hectic proceedings with an ethereal quality that haunts the film.

Luke’s segment of the story isn’t quite concluded when we meet law school drop-out, now young rookie cop, Avery (Bradley  Cooper), who makes a tragic mistake while on duty that unleashes an appalling shame upon his character. His overwhelming guilt creates a gulf in the relationship with his wife and young child and also puts him at odds with growing corruption in the police force at work. This middle portion plays out in a more conventional manner, but is deftly handled as a nice transition piece that sets up the concluding third of the film, anchored by Dane DeHaan, in which Cianfrance widens out with grand themes of self-reinvention and examinations of the nature of masculine identity.

Those familiar with Blue Valentine - or even his earlier Brother Tied - will have a good idea of the power of Cianfrance’s unflinching storytelling style and the effect it sways on the way we watch his work. His films are dense in rich themes and expertly laid allegories, yet are always highly watchable with brilliant performances. That’s not to say you’ll ever be completely at ease watching The Place Beyond the Pines, however. In fact, its main accomplishment comes from the challenging discomfort it provides the audience.

{2jtab: Film Details}

the Place Beyond the Pines - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference.
140 mins.
: Alexandre Aja
: Derek Cianfrance; Ben Coccio
Ryan Gosling; Eva mendes; Bradley Cooper; Ben Mendelsohn; Dane DeHaan
: Drama | Crime
The Place beyond the Pines
Memorable Movie Quote: "How are you going to take care of him?"
Focus Features
Official Site:
Release Date: March 29, 2013 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
August 6, 2013.

Synopsis: The film powerfully explores the consequences of motorcycle rider Luke (Gosling)'s fateful decision to commit a crime to support his child. The incident renders him targeted by policeman Avery (Cooper), and the two men become locked on a tense collision course which will have a devastating impact on both of their families in the years following.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

The Place Beyond the Pines - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - August 6, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; iTunes digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Region-free

Careful not to mess up the filmmaker’s intentions for the look of the film, Universal's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation is pure enjoyment.   Colors are bold and then bleached due to the demands of the film.  There is natural lighting throughout and details emerge due to the availability of the light at the time.  It’s a beautiful looking film but don’t expect gloss.  This is gritty subject matter and so is the transfer; all by design.  Like I said, the image quality of the film is stylistically grainy and one should not expect a clean picture.  The sound mix – presented here in a dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track - has decent channel separation which mostly comes into play during Gosling’s motorcycle action scenes.  This is dialogue heavy and the sound takes this into consideration nicely.



  • Director/co-writer Derek Cianfrance takes the reigns on this highly informative commentary.  Want to know the inspiration for the look of the movie?  Or how he gets the acting he does from his actors?  Check this low-key commentary out.

Special Features:

As stunning as the film is, the supplemental material is shockingly not.  Bonus features include a very brief and self-congratulatory making of featurette, along with completely nonessential deleted scenes. The Blu-ray combo pack also includes a DVD and an UltraViolet digital download code.  And that’s it ... not counting the sleeve for the case.

  • Deleted Scenes (10 min)
  • Going to The Place Beyond the Pines (5 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}