The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Film Reviews, 2010s, Crime, Drama | 0 comments

Transcending The Boundaries Of Ordinary Storytelling


Release date: 29 March 2013 (USA)
Genre: Crime/Drama
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cinematographer: Sean Bobbitt
Budget: $15 million USD
Box Office: $ 47,1 million USD


4 min read

Updated: 31 October 2023


Every once in a while, there comes a film that transcends the boundaries of ordinary storytelling, offering an unforgettable cinematic experience. The Place Beyond the Pines is such a film. Directed by Derek Cianfrance and starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and a prodigious ensemble, the film delves into the intricate lattice of destiny, legacy, and choices that bind and befall us.

The film unfolds in a triptych structure – three connected parts – each bearing its weight and relevance.


All About Film - The place beyond the pines 2012 - Movie review


Unearthing layers of guilt, ambition, and corruption

The story of Luke (Ryan Gosling), a motorcycle stuntman turned bank robber, forms the first arc, delving into his struggles and the desperate measures he takes to provide for his son. Cooper’s Avery, a police officer and the second protagonist, carries the narrative further, unearthing layers of guilt, ambition, and corruption. The final act converges on their sons, AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan), bearing the inherited consequences of their fathers’ actions.

The strength of The Place Beyond the Pines lies in its subtle storytelling that brims with emotional intensity and profound explorations of fatherhood and legacy. The film’s cyclical narrative is like a poignant Greek tragedy set in Schenectady, New York, beautifully portraying the intricate connection between fathers and sons, and how actions ripple through generations.


All About Film - The place beyond the pines 2012 - Movie review


Ethereal and sometimes suffocating atmosphere

Its filming is as noteworthy as the narrative. Every scene is shot with a meticulous eye for detail. Cianfrance and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt have turned Schenectady into a vital character in the film – a place of lost dreams and lingering echoes. The aerial shots, chase sequences, and intimate close-ups contribute to the film’s ethereal and sometimes suffocating atmosphere, accentuating the emotional gravity of the story.

The film boasts an array of superb performances. Gosling delivers a visceral portrayal of Luke, personifying desperation and raw paternal instinct. Cooper gives one of his career-best performances, exploring the fragility and complexity of Avery’s character with nuance. Mendes’s Romina is an anchor amidst the chaos, portraying the silent strength and endurance of a woman caught in the whirlpool of life’s unfair turns. The younger cast, DeHaan and Cohen, too, leave a lasting impression, seamlessly inheriting the emotional baggage of their on-screen fathers.


All About Film - The place beyond the pines 2012 - Movie review


Resonates with viewers who appreciate cinema

Released in 2012, The Place Beyond the Pines was met with generally positive reviews, though it split some audiences and critics due to its unconventional narrative and melancholic tone. It gathered an impressive $47,1 million USD worldwide against a $15 million USD budget, marking it as a commercial success. Despite its length and sometimes relentless bleakness, the movie resonates with viewers who appreciate cinema that dares to be different.

Many online reviews highlight its sprawling narrative as a potential downside, with the three-part structure leaving some feeling disjointed. However, I argue that this structure is integral to the film’s thematic explorations, creating a distinct cinematic canvas for each character to breathe and evolve, and weaving them together in an organic tapestry of intertwined destinies.

Some critics also argue that the film’s ending is somewhat ambiguous, leaving more questions than answers. Yet, I perceive this ambiguity as an artistic choice that allows viewers to introspect and speculate, enhancing the film’s impact long after the credits roll.


All About Film - The place beyond the pines 2012 - Movie review


Ambitious, bold, and emotionally rich film

The Place Beyond the Pines is an ambitious, bold, and emotionally rich film that beautifully encapsulates the essence of human relationships and the inheritance of actions across generations. With excellent performances, mesmerising cinematography, and a narrative that dares to be distinctive, the film is a testament to the profound potential of storytelling in cinema. It is a movie that truly earns its 10 out of 10 rating, and despite its few detractors, it remains a remarkable film that deserves to be remembered for its unique portrayal of the human condition.


My Rating: 10/10


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