Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

This film kept on giving, and while its pace is slow and its mood set permanently to “morose” it did surprise me in the directions it went.

Following side-show stunt biker Luke (Ryan Gosling) after he quits his job to try and make amends to the mother of his son he never knew about, he provides for them by turning to bank robbery. This callous turn in character dooms him, his family and others who become involved and long into the lives of their children.
I knew very little about the film, asides from it being another vehicle for Gosling. But truth be told, the performance of note here is Bradley Cooper. Gosling does a great job, but if you have seen Drive (in my honest opinion, my preferred film of the two) you have seen his performance before. Cooper comes out of nowhere and steals the show, literally.
It is a very slow and quiet film (again, like Drive) with the characters pulling a lot of weight around with them in the first act, all bottled up and angst-ridden. It only gets more convoluted when more characters are introduced in the second act (this film has very much the three act structure) and it may lose some audience members with its apparent lack of commitment to its established characters.
But then the third act comes along… and I am doing my best to not spoil this entire story (which is very easy to do, by the way, kudos to me)… and everything, and I mean everything we have seen so far, comes together and it feels like you’ve embraced an entire trilogy of films in the space of 140 minutes.
As a result, it a film that is very slow at first, and a little alienating, but if you stick with it you will see it escalate and the characters (even those you thought abandoned) become richer as time literally moves on around them.
You need patience, time and no distractions to watch the film and appreciate it. I thought I had all of them, yet I was starting to struggle a little. It is an excellent film, and it may require another viewing, but it isn’t something I would go out and buy.
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