Review: The Place Beyond the Pines


Director:Derek Cianfrance

Cast:Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Ray Liotta

Running Time:140.00


Only movies with the right amount of heft can support a running time over two hours. The Place Beyond the Pines acts like it does, but it rambles on for much of that time and isn't nearly as deep as it thinks it is.

While ostensibly about a bank robber (Ryan Gosling) and the cop pursuing him (Bradley Cooper), The Place Beyond the Pines is more about the titular place, otherwise known as Schenectady, New York. Cianfrance really establishes a sense of place here, where the cops are friends and the townspeople work hard, even if that job is shady.

This is also a movie about fathers and sons and how a father's choices can affect his children, even years later. These are weighty themes, but there's no chance for them to sink in because it's too busy running quickly through a forest of cliches.

A good chunk of the film takes place some time in the '90s with Gosling's Handsome Luke leaving behind his stunt riding days to rob banks. Sadly, this plays too much like a Drive rip-off, mostly because Gosling again plays a soft-spoken, violent criminal. There's plenty of style in this section of the film, but not nearly enough substance.

About an hour in, the film switches perspectives to Cooper's Avery Jones, a beat cop who stumbles across Luke's path. During his investigation, he uncovers widespread corruption on the police force. Again, this feels entirely derivative, especially because Ray Liotta plays one of the dirty cops.

Yet the film keeps going on and on, jumping ahead to catch up with Avery's son, a drugged-up wannabe thug. When the card "15 Years Later" popped up, a feeling of dread washed over the audience, because at that point it felt like the movie would never end.

There's a twist in the final act I won't reveal, but by then it's fairly easy to spot. But sifting through everything, there's plenty to admire in the film, particularly the cinematography and acting. Still, it's a slog and one that's been done earlier and better.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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