The Place Beyond The Pines could be three short films glued together into one immensely long event. The first story is Luke’s (Ryan Gosling): a Globe Of Death motorbike rider discovers he has a son. He quits his touring carnival job to stay close to his child, but meets the spectacular bad influence, Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). Luke’s story ends as Avery’s (Bradley Cooper) begins. Avery, an ambitious cop, aims to break a corruption ring in the local police force. Suddenly, there is a fifteen-year lapse. The film continues, following Luke and Avery’s sons.
Much of the film is beautifully photographed: the opening sequence of Luke’s walk through the carnival, a sliver-faced shot of an crooked cop through a window, the closing landscape moments, and others. However, over-long cross-fades and zippy footage through the forests are recurring queasy eye-strainers.
With a cast like this, the acting is understandably superb. Gosling’s role is compelling, and the transfer of starring role from him to Bradley Cooper is seamless as their tales cross.
Sadly, there was just something unsatisfying about this film. Perhaps it was its lack of resolutions despite the length, the strange pacing, or the forced parallels between the interlinked lives. Fascinating, but subtly flawed.
By Ilona Wallace