Natalie Kfoury – Co-Editor-in-Chief
Three years ago director Derek Cianfrance crafted the heartbreaking film “Blue Valentine,” which starred Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a couple falling out of love. “Blue Valentine,” which was the director’s second film, created buzz surrounding his name and left fans eager for more. “The Place Beyond the Pines,” Cianfrance’s fourth film, satisfies those fans and brings more of the director’s power to the table. The film starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes, takes the audience on an emotional ride.
“The Place Beyond the Pines” presents itself in three parts. The first is an explosive focus on Luke Glanton (Gosling), a motorcycle stuntman who finds out that he left an ex-lover, Romina (Mendes) pregnant during his last visit to town, and he is now the father of an infant named Jason. While Romina is with a new man, Luke wants to be a positive part of Jason’s life and tries to provide for Romina and his son.
When all else fails, he desperately turns to robbing banks with his friend Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). What happens to Luke through his endeavors is bittersweet, powerful, and emotionally raw. Though Luke has found himself on the wrong side of the law, the audience cannot help but root and hold out hope for him the entire way.
The second part of “The Place Beyond the Pines” unfortunately slows the film down. This segment focuses on Avery Cross (Cooper), the police officer who dealt with Luke and now must battle corruption in the police force. Avery, who also has an infant son, AJ, must fight internal demons and his own friends as he tries to set things right and meet the expectations of people such as his father, and himself.
The third installment brings back the fire a bit as it takes the audience 15 years into the future and focuses on AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan) as the two meet and form a relationship without understanding how their fathers were connected. The two possess the same demons that haunted their fathers and the story, little by little, fully knits together.
“The Place Beyond the Pines” is successful due to the acting. Gosling, who has proven to be an actor of versatility, is nothing short of that here. His performance is memorable and echoes throughout the entire film. Supporting actors such as Mendes, Mendelsohn, and De- Haan further strengthen the film, allowing the acting to be powerful and moving and the emotion presented raw and real.
While the film loses momentum at points, much of it is well crafted, unexpected and effectively tugs at the audiences’ heartstrings. The characters cannot leave behind the pasts and the emotions of their fathers and this leaves them either finding success, still searching for whom they are, or losing sight of who they want to be. “The Place Beyond the Pines” will captivate viewers who are ready and will appreciate Cianfrance’s latest ambitious and emotional rollercoaster.