The Place Beyond the Pines Screen 16 articles

The Place Beyond the Pines

2012

The Place Beyond the Pines Poster
  • Cianfrance's prior film was the striking but also often heavy-handed "Blue Valentine" in 2010, and it's often painfully clear watching this movie that nobody involved in the production encouraged him to tone down the portent and emotiveness here. Suffice it to say that for almost two and a half teeth-gritting hours, "The Place Beyond the Pines" lays its very male sincerity on with a trowel.

  • If the first segment of The Place Beyond the Pines is merely dramatically unconvincing and borderline campy—peaking when Luke’s grease-stained, squirrel-eyed accomplice (Ben Mendelsohn) warns him sagely that “when you ride like lightning, you crash like thunder”—it’s the middle segment that begins to give a true indication of just how pretentious a register Cianfrance is working in.

  • Aesthetically, "The Place Beyond the Pines" is an unwieldy mix of psychological realism and visual impressionism, so Cianfrance's characters' dialogue is deliberately coarse while his film's mise-en-scène is distractingly mannered. Ostentatiously composed compositions, manic narrative pacing, and a thunderous Sturm-und-Drang score all strain to make a grand tragedy out of four salt-of-the-earth types' contrived stories.

  • While all these implausible plot connections might be acceptable in a movie that places them in a reasonable context, this one goes to the well too many times, and the results are increasingly ridiculous (has the Cooper character just been carrying that money around in his jacket for the last 15 years?).

  • With his 130-minute new feature, Derek Cianfrance may imagine that he has orchestrated an audacious multigenerational epic. In reality he has effectively made three movies here where one might have sufficed in an effort that suggests his limitations as a credible storyteller.

  • The Place Beyond the Pines never reaches a climax because it's always in one, distilling the lives of its characters to their tensest moments...

  • Toward the end, there is some especially fine work by two relative newcomers, Emory Cohen (from Antonio Campos's Afterschool) and Dane DeHaan (who played Shia LaBeouf's wiry young friend in Lawless), cast, respectively, as the sons of cop and robber, trying to make sense of their entwined destinies. But the disparate pieces never quite jell; the movie is all trees and no forest.

  • An upstate tragedy that taps into some Timeless Themes—the unrelenting bench-press of masculine responsibility and the equally heavy shit that passes between fathers and sons—this three-part drama is nonetheless more engaging for its granular detail than for its big-canvas sweep. The film, cowritten by director Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder, seems winded by the finish line, as each movement is anchored by a less engaging screen presence than the last.

  • Cianfrance’s direction is even heavier than in “Blue Valentine,” with long takes and follow shots, but less prone to shouting and also goofier. Call Cianfrance humorless, but few mega-dramas have been scored by Faith No More’s basically insane synth doodler Mike Patton.

  • Unlike Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines (titled after the English translation of the name of its setting, Schenectady) doesn’t beat you over the head with its working-class anti-pretensions, and Gosling’s hour-long narrative in particular suggests a filmmaker with a real affinity for low-key genre mechanics. Cianfrance may turn out to be one of those artists for whom less is considerably more.

  • Gosling is a blond mannequin with poor impulse control, Cooper (the story's pivot) doesn't seem to do enough to justify the flamboyantly fucked-up son or 'sins of the fathers' theme... people consistently take extreme decisions... with no apparent qualms, the women are all underused and it all ends in the Place Beyond the Pines, where ... well, I dunno, what does the first time we see that location (threat, menace) have to do with the second (resolution, reconnection)?

  • Cianfrance, who studied filmmaking with the avant-garde filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon, is clearly not interested in consistent verisimilitude. Much more so than Blue Valentine (and in fact, more like Cianfrance’s unreleased, highly Expressionist 1998 debut feature Brother Tied), Pines employs sweeping emotion and a highly visible structure to heighten artifice.

  • After the actorcentric fireworks of Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine (2010), it’s impressive to see him going after a wider sociopolitical scope, one that would have been better served by a less repetitive structure. Even if the place beyond the pines is just Schenectady, the ambition will lead to higher ground.

  • A sprawling, epic-scale triptych about fathers and sons in America that seeks to combine the spirits of Charles Dickens and Bruce Springsteen, “The Place Beyond the Pines” might be better off if it were just a crime movie with Ryan Gosling. Still, there’s no mistaking the immense ambition and tremendous craftsmanship of director and co-writer Derek Cianfrance, and I think the movie is most effective if you know little about the story going in.

  • That odd performance [by Emory Cohen] and a handful of minor pacing issues aside, ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ is an enormously satisfying film: carefully observed and consistently compelling, it feels like an instant American classic, if a minor one. Cianfrance’s conclusions may tend towards the obvious – crime doesn’t pay, cops can be crooks, parents fuck you up – but there’s nothing wrong with an old song, so long as it’s well sung. Just ask The Boss.

  • With The Place Beyond the Pines, Cianfrance moves into vastly different territory [than Blue Valentine]. An expansive, many-textured epic in two parts, shot on location in Schenectady, New York, the film explores the bloodline tie between two adolescent boys (the second part) and their absent fathers (the first). Using an ensemble cast, live locations and more than ten times the budget of previous productions, it’s an ambitious work of a far larger scope than the director is used to collaring.

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