Review: The Place Beyond The Pines


The Place Beyond the Pines follows on from Derek Cianfrance’s heartbreaker, Blue Valentine. This dark, brooding romantic tale once again features Ryan Gosling trying to make ends meet with his estranged ladyfriend.

The best way to explain this film is to start at the end. The final sequence features Bon Iver’s Wolves droning out as Jason (Dane DeHaan), rides a motorbike into the woods with the same beaten up face and troubled blue eyes that his father, Luke (Ryan Gosling), would usually carry with him.

Jason pieces together the relationships within the narrative, he being the result of a casual fling between his daredevil motocycle-riding father, and small town girl, Romina (Eva Mendes), who met while he was travelling the country as part of a circus act. Luke, being transient and distant due to his line of work, meets his son as a one-year-old baby. With the revelation that he has a child, Luke quits the circus, and clears his head with a wild ride through the woods. Here he stumbles upon Robin (Ben Mendelshon, who has a strange likeness to Noah Taylor in this role) at his lonely digs that are set up in the woods amongst the pines. The pair become friends and plan to rob banks in order to get money for Luke to support his baby. They decide to utilise Luke’s mad motocycle riding skills to get away with the heists.

After several successful robberies, Luke and Robina are spending more time together but Luke goes and fucks everything up after an altercation with Romina’s new man. After a stint in jail, ties are cut with Romina and Robin, and Luke stubornly goes off on a solo heist. This time things don’t go so smoothly and we are introduced to local over-educated police cop, Avery (a clean shaven Bradley Cooper) intimidating Luke at gun-point.

Fast forward to Jason’s teenage years, at school the boy is labelled as a “loner stoner”, as he in introverted, much like his father. He pairs with troubled AJ (Emory Cohen), who is new in town having been forced to live with his father as an attempt to straighten him out. After some realisations and some scuffles about their family ties, Jason pressures his mother for more information about his father. He seeks Robin, whom speaks lovingly of his lost friend. With firsthand true knowledge about his father, he takes on the life of the nomad, buys a motorcycle and rides off into the woods.

The Place Beyond the Pines features many impressive twists and turns, which make writing this review so difficult without giving all of the spoilers away. There is so much going on in the content-dense two-and-a half hours of screen time, but it is gripping, with interesting development of families and their lives, all captured with clever shots in a gritty, dark tinge to mirror the circumstances of the characters. The three leading characters rarely meet but Gosling, Cooper and newcomer, DeHaan, are excellent playing their separate roles.



Words by Carol Bowditch.