I have to give credit where credit is due Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines” is an original movie, its a boring meandering movie as well. It’s like watching a sprawling book unfold, that a quarter way through, you just want to finish the book, since you bought the book or in this case a ticket.
The film initially focuses on Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) a tattooed stunt motorcycle riding carney, who seems to have a couple of t-shirts but settles for the Metallica shirt that everyone wore in high school way back when, along with an endless supply of smokes.
After A performance in Schenectady, NY he runs into Romina (Eva Mendes) who he hasn’t seen in a year, but he remembers her name, Luke gives Romina a ride home, but isn’t invited into her house. Turns out Luke is a father to Rowina’s child Jason. Rowina has moved on, with a new man Kofi (Mahershala Ali) who is raising Jason as his own child.
Luke’s Dad abandoned him Luke feels an obligation to raise the child and be there for him, so that he doesn’t turn out like he did. Luke quits his job and goes about looking for work where he runs into Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) there isn’t much work in Schenectady, Robin has a small auto repair shop, and a place to stay for Luke. Later on Robin suggests to Luke the only way to make real money is robbing banks, the trick to it is to not rob the same banks. Luke initially refuses, but eventually partners with Robin.
After a couple of robberies Luke tries to intergrate himself into Jason’s life, that at first goes allright, Luke is thrilled that he is able to give Jason his first taste of ice cream.
Things go awry for Luke when he attempts to install a crib at Kofi & Rowena’s place, Kofi confronts Luke, who then breaks Kofi’s nose, Luke goes to jail, until he is bailed out by Robin.
Enter Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) a rookie patrolman,
who has a wife and infant son, Cross is shot in pursuit of Glanton, the story then shifts to Avery’s point of view, while recovering from his injuries, he has a difficult time with his father Al (Harris Yulin) A retired judge. Deluca (Ray Liotta) & his detective team take Avery to Romina’s home to conduct an unlawful search for any money Luke may have left there. Money is recovered from the home, the majority of the money is given to Avery as “hazard pay”.
Avery decides he is no longer fit for active duty, he wants to be a lieutenant in the department the police chief is unable to accommodate that request instead assign’s Cross to the evidence room.
Avery is able to parlay an internal bust of Deluca & his corrupt detectives into a District Attorney job, then the story jumps another 15 years ahead. Avery decides to run for New York State Attorney General, things are not as golden for Avery as they were 15 years earlier his marriage has ended and his son now wants to live with him, even though it’s not the best of time to have AJ do this to Avery.
After enrolling in a new school AJ (Emory Cohen) meets Jason Glanton (Dane DeHaan) neither knowing nothing about what happened with their fathers. Eventually AJ & Jason get arrested for drug possession after hearing Jason’s name as “Jason Killcullen” Avery arranges to give Jason A misdemeanor with time served, and forbids his son from hanging out with Jason.
What confused me is when Jason’s last name is mentioned to Avery he knows who he is despite having the name ‘Killcullen’ which is the name of Bruce Greenwood’s character (Bill Killcullen) who is the internal affairs officer in the Schenectady police department, unless I misheard something. Romina’s last name isn’t listed on IMDB or Wikipedia, neither is Kofi’s however Jason in listed as Jason Glanton. I understand for the purpose of the story Avery would recognize the name I digress.
Mike Patton’s score is moody and atmospheric I have a couple of his tracks on my ipod, Sean Bobbit’s cinematography is fantastic especially capturing a couple of sunrises that is stunning. He gives Schenectady a gritty look, his last shot of the movie gives you hope for Jason.
“The Place Beyond the Pines” could’ve benefitted greatly from a least one re-write, I appreciate greatly the writing team of Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, attempting to write a sprawling epic about broken dysfunctional people, that almost works as a sequel to “Copland”, without Sylvester Stallone’s character.
My other thought is that the casting of Ryan Gosling might’ve caused the length of the film to go over two hours, his performance is just as chilling and muted from his previous film in “Drive” where he is simply credited as “Driver”.
If the film began with Avery’s pursuit of Luke as the starting point it would’ve been just as effective, so if you to see this movie expecting a quick beginning middle and end, then this is not the film for you.
Then again maybe the financial backers to this film gave Derek Cianfrance the money necessary to make the film that he wanted to make. Clearly he has accomplished that with this film so kudos to him for that, so if you go excepting that as your film you would not be disappointed.
Rating ** 1/4 out of ****