PG Cooper: The Place Beyond the Pines Review

Posted: April 21, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

the-place-beyond-the-pines-posterWhen January rolled around, a lot of bloggers began making their “most anticipated films for 2013” lists. I thought about doing one, but held off because, apart from the typical blockbusters, there wasn’t much promotional material for other films. If I had made a list, one film that definitely would have been included is The Place Beyond the Pines. With a solid director like Derek Cianfrance at the helm, a strong cast, and a great trailer, I had a lot to be excited for. Now that the film has come, I can say my anticipation was warranted; this is a very strong film.

Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) is a motorcyclist who makes a living performing stunts with a touring fair. While stopped in one town, Glanton meets and hooks up with Romina (Eve Mendes) before returning to travel. A year later, the fair returns and Glanton learns that Romina has his son and has been raising him for a year. Feeling bad for not knowing, Glanton vows to provide for his son. However his skill set is limited, which leads to him turning to crime to make his money, putting Glanton on a collision course with police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).

The trailers have promoted the film as a crime film but that isn’t really the case. There are elements of that to be sure, but the film is more of a drama about fathers, sons, and consequences. These themes are analyzed in an interesting way which is obvious but feels natural. Granted, interesting though the themes are, I don’t think the film brings much new to the table as far as the themes go. It’s also important to understand that this film is divided into three separate but related stories. All three stories are interesting and work even better together. They bleed into each other very naturally and the way the actions reverberate through the film is done well. There is a mild contrivance in the third act that some may not buy, but I accepted it. The large span of the film’s story really gives events a feeling of importance and makes the audience feel the legacy of these characters.

Acting is solid all around. Ryan Gosling is very successful in making one feel for Glanton despite him being a criminal. He seems to genuinely want to do the right thing and Gosling effectively handles a subtle arc and even subtler emotions. Bradley Cooper is also strong as a man under pressure from a lot of sides who ends up struggling with guilt. The two give the strongest performances in the film, and good work is also done by Dane DeHaan, Eve Mendes, and Ben Mendelsohn. Admittedly, Gosling, Cooper, and even DeHaan have done clearly better work elsewhere, but that isn’t really a criticism so much as it is an observation. If the cast as one actor who maybe isn’t on the same level, it’s Emory Cohen. Perhaps it’s just the nature of his character, but his work feels more forced.

The film holds up well on a technical level. I really liked the score by former Faith No More lead singer Mike Patton. It isn’t overbearing but still manages to be really dramatic and moving. It isn’t stylish or flashy, but it’s perfect for this time of film. The cinematography is good for the dramatic points, but excels for the action scenes where it has a real frenetic energy. Speaking of the action scenes, there are some really good ones here. All the heist are well done and there’s a really awesome chase about an hour in. I don’t know what has attracted Ryan Gosling to great chase scenes lately, but I’m definitely enjoying it. Credit is also due to Derek Cianfrance for employing a high degree of control of tone.

On the whole, I really enjoyed The Place Beyond the Pines. The film succeeds in almost all areas and while it never really blew me away, the film has no major drawbacks either. The minor problems the film does have are practically unnoticeable. What it does have are great characters and an interesting story that had me constantly engaged, as well as solid technical details.  I thoroughly enjoyed every scene from beginning to end and, if nothing else, that’s worth praising.


  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review PG. Worth the look for the performances and beginning part, but after that, it does get a bit squidgy in terms of what could have been taken out and what could have been left in.

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