The Place Beyond the Pines Review

The Place Beyond the Pines starring Ryan Gossling

I am not jealous of the person who is handed a film like The Place Beyond The Pines and is told to make a trailer and figure out how to market it. It is a slow burn that focuses on characters and I’m not sure I’ve seen a good trailer, especially not a TV spot, that does a good job of conveying the basic story beats. It’s not a knock against the work people are doing, but more of an acknowledgement of how difficult that proposition is.

The Place Beyond The Pines’ trailer conveys the tone just fine, but it paints a very confusing picture with a plot that seems to be about two completely different movies, one starring Ryan Gosling as a bank robber and one starring Bradley Cooper as a cop trying to ferret out corruption in his department. The film has a very strong three act structure like most movies, except that each act focuses on a different main character. It almost felt like there were three movies in one, save for the strong narrative arc that flows through all of them.


It was strange at first, but it set the film apart. When the act changes came they were surprising, but logical. Each focused on completely different plot beats, but with each building on and continuing the plot of the previous in their own way. It was fascinating to watch unfold and had one of the more satisfying endings for a movie so focused on characters. This wasn’t just a window into interesting moments in their lives either, these characters grew in a realistic fashion.

I know there is a contingent of people who hate Ryan Gosling and think his method of acting is awful, but there’s something about him that I find charming, even when he’s playing a scumbag. He has a way of acting through facial expressions that I find captivating and his ‘looks’ are back in full force here. It was nice to see a portrayal of a bank robber as more than a cold-hearted thug or a devious criminal mastermind.

Bradley Cooper, another of my favorite actors, gave a nuanced performance that could rival his from Silver Linings Playbook. His act was a more realistic seeming portrayal of weeding out corruption within a police force. No intense shootouts or unimaginable depths of dirty cops. Every act felt like an autobiographical book. No detail spared in favor of making a more entertaining story, yet it held my gaze beginning to end.

Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in a crime drama where they sit on opposite sides of the law sounds like a brilliant idea and so many directors would give you a fun movie that is just that. Derek Cianfrance gave us a story that was so much more. Changing characters within a narrative structure that sees each act having one main character would be an impossible task in the hands of a lesser writer or director. The Place Beyond The Pines is such an expansive narrative about such a small, seemingly insignificant story and executes it brilliantly.

Rating Banner 4-5

In Theaters: Limited Release March 28, 2013 / Wide Release April 12, 2013
Runtime: 2 hours 20 minutes
Rating: R (for language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference)
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Distributor: Focus Features
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