A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Kristin Scott Thomas,
It's 1949 Los Angeles, the city is run by gangsters and a malicious mobster, Mickey Cohen. Determined to end the corruption, John O'Mara assembles a team of cops, ready to take down the ruthless leader and restore peace to the city.
A mysterious and mythical motorcycle racer, Luke, (Ryan Gosling) drives out of a traveling carnival globe of death and whizzes through the backstreets of Schenectady, New York, desperately trying to connect with a former lover, Romina, (Eva Mendes) who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider's son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross, (Bradley Cooper) looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. The sweeping drama unfolds over fifteen years as the sins of the past haunt the present days lives of two high school boys wrestling with the legacy they've inherited. The only refuge is found in the place beyond the pines. Written by
Eva Mendes was already a big fan of Blue Valentine before she got to work with Derek Cianfrance. See more »
When Cross leaves the police station after putting the cash back in the evidence box, he sees the chief standing by the cruiser talking to Deluca. A modern 2011 Hyundai Sonata in Limited trim with Turbo drives in the background. This would not have been available in the time the scene takes place (circa 1990, with the last arc of the film taking place in present day). See more »
I'm not asking for an advance, I'm quitting.
You can't quit.
I just did.
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A phenomenal first segment, then it's all downhill
The Place Beyond The Pines derives its title from the English translation of the Mohawk name for Schenectady, New York, where the film is set. Director Derek Cianfrance's third feature is the follow-up to 2010's widely praised Blue Valentine, a movie whose supposed magnificence was lost on me. Cianfrance reteams with one of that film's stars, Ryan Gosling, for one of The Place Beyond The Pines' three segments that unfolds over a 15 year period with interconnected story lines that mixes elements of crime drama, teenage angst, questions about fate, and the complexities of father-son relationships.
The first segment is unquestionably the film's strongest, with Gosling further refining the brooding anti-hero character that seems to have become his stock-in- trade. His Luke character is introduced in the film's great opening scene that employs an extensive single tracking shot, as the audience views his heavily tattooed body and carnival motorcycle stunt rider profession, which convey Luke's societal fringe elements without saying a word. Luke's white trash status is also reinforced by the repeated wearing of a Metallica Ride The Lightning muscle tee and a ratty white t-shirt worn inside out in public, tag and all (I love that the latter is never addressed by any characters Luke meets). A reconnection with a woman (Romina, played by a solid Eva Mendes) he had a quickie fling with the last time his job brought him to town reveals that he's the father of her two-year old son. The news awakens Luke's paternal instincts and he attempts to insert himself back into the pair's lives, despite the complication of another man in Romina's life. Desperate to prove he can provide for Romina and his son, Luke ends up robbing banks, with the assistance of a scruffy auto mechanic he's met (an excellent Ben Mendelsohn providing some understated comic relief). Aspects of Luke and his deeds immediately bring to mind Gosling's role from last year's Drive. Despite the similarities in roles surprisingly played so close to each other, Gosling's unpredictable, violence-prone character commands the screen for the approximately hour long length of his segment. His storyline does admittedly benefit from the best writing of the three segments, courtesy of screenwriters Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder.
Gosling's dynamism and that first segment's brilliance are only highlighted by the significantly diminishing returns that follow it. Segment two stars Bradley Cooper as a rookie cop who found himself involved in Luke's story, with other subplots involving police corruption, morality, and an unhappy marriage also playing out. I've always found Cooper to be a rather dull actor and his performance here hasn't changed my opinion; that, combined with the segment's derivative story, managed to effectively kill my segment one buzz. The writing is also too uneven - Cooper's character is set up as a smart, moral person, yet those qualities are a little too conveniently discarded when he's presented with a career-altering decision. Bruce Greenwood is memorable in a small role as a high-ranking cop, while Ray Liotta's minor role as an intimidating, crooked cop feels like the kind of role we've seen from him dozens of times already.
Segment three completes The Place Beyond The Pines' downhill slide, focussing on the teenage sons (played by Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen) of Gosling's and Cooper's characters. As the snoozy storyline featuring bratty behaviour from the screwed up high school students developed, I could never get past the fact the segment hinged on their chance meeting and eventual friendship. That meeting, considering the inextricably linked history they share via their fathers, was simply far too coincidental for me to suspend disbelief. Also distracting: a time jump of 15 years reveals Cooper's character and that of his wife (played by Rose Byrne) to have seemingly not aged at all, while Mendes' Romina looks to have aged about 25 years.
I respect the fact that Cianfrance took some risks with The Place Beyond The Pines, which had its world premiere at TIFF - he throws in a major plot twist relatively early on and the movie's segmented structure is definitely a gamble and somewhat unconventional, but unfortunately, the loosely connected narrative and performances don't hold together over the course of the film's too-long 140 minute running time. The disappointing ending shouldn't come as much of a shock to anyone who has just witnessed the decline from the first-rate quality of the riveting opening segment to the progressively inferior chapters that follow. As the last third of it plays out, that swing has been so dramatic that it almost feels like we're watching an altogether different movie.
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