Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen.
Running time: 2hrs 21mins.
The sins of fathers are revisited upon the sons in Derek Cianfrance’s doom-laden triptych, which reunites the award-winning writer-director with his Blue Valentine star, Ryan Gosling.
The Place Beyond The Pines is a slow-burning meditation on crime and punishment, which treats the morally flawed characters with sensitivity, never condemning them for their reckless and sometimes immoral actions.
Violence begets more violence, dishonesty sows the seeds of guilt and regret; no one escapes the melee unscathed.
Cianfrance’s penchant for intimate, emotionally raw scenes serves him well here too and he elicits eye-catching performances, particularly from Gosling, which paper over the cracks in his haphazard plotting.
However, for all of the sinewy plot threads and frenetic action sequences, including bank robberies and a high-speed motorcycle chase through a cemetery, The Place Beyond The Pines never quite revs its engine at top speed.
Fearless motorcyclist Luke Glanton (Gosling) is part of a stunt show in a travelling circus.
By chance, Luke learns that he has fathered a son by one conquest, Romina (Eva Mendes), who has found herself a boyfriend, Kofi (Mahershala Ali), to provide stability
Luke plots to supplant Kofi as the man of the house and joins forces with a mechanic called Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) to raise the necessary cash by robbing banks.
Enterprising cop Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) is in the right place at the right time to apprehend Luke during a botched robbery, and 15 years later, the men’s wayward offspring, AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan), are flung togethe.
The Place Beyond The Pines is impeccably crafted and Mike Patton’s orchestrations beautifully underscore the inner turmoil.
Female protagonists including Avery’s wife (Rose Byrne) do not fare so well, which is disappointing.
The 140-minute running time sometimes feels like more of an indulgence than dramatic necessity.
The film’s middle section sags noticeably and to tie up the loose ends in the concluding chapter, Cianfrance hurries to an overly neat epiphany.