The Place Beyond The Pines - Online Review

'Looking through the occasional performance weaknesses, there's a really special script here'

Ryan Gosling is forging an A-list career for himself by virtue not only of being very good at what he does but also by consistently partnering with talented people. Whilst his collaboration with Drive and Only God Forgives director Nicholas Winding Refn might be the one that gets the geek-cred crowd excited, there is at least equal worth in his work with Derek Cianfrance, director of both the superlative Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond The Pines.

The latter of those, whilst not as good as the first Gosling/Cianfrance collaboration, is an extremely interesting take on cops and robbers, families and fathers, cyclical lives of crime, thrill-chasing and pursuing destiny. It's not as safe, or as predictable as its marketing campaign makes it look and by the end, like Blue Valentine, Cianfrance can point to having taken his audience on a well-developed and inventive narrative journey, fraught with honesty.

The problem is that, for the final third of the story, we're in the company not of A-listers Gosling and Bradley Cooper but instead shouldered with Emory Cohen and Dane DeHaan, the former of which is a depressingly uncertain, nervous on-screen presence. It's a jarring shift from what had been, until that point, a film certain in what it was doing, with the performances to carry that tone off. With DeHaan and Cohen, especially, as the focus, Cianfrance loses something and his film eventually peters away, by way of a final shot with resonance, though not enough to paper over the cracks of the third act.

Along the way, Cianfrance teases out two really compelling turns from Cooper and Gosling and a third from Eva Mendes in support, earthy and realistic as a torn girlfriend and mother. Ben Mendelsohn, also in support, still feels a long way from Animal Kingdom, again making his performance far too busy, when in that film he was simple machismo and nasty threat, and hugely more impressive for it.

Looking through the occasional performance weaknesses though, there's a really special script here by the director and writing partners Ben Coccio and Darius Marder. Not only is there originality but also a plan to follow, a destination to arrive at and some excellent work to take in along the way. It doesn't all come off on-screen but when it does, Cianfrance - with Gosling in tow - again hints that there was brilliance here, at least in part.

The Place Beyond The Pines is available on BlinkBox.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.


  1. Good review Sam. The cast is great, but the story really lets them down, especially by the last act.

    1. Thanks Dan. It's such a shame, really wanted to like it more but just felt it was ruined by that final third.

  2. Nice review, personally I had no problem with the final act. This is one of my favorites of the year.

    1. I really liked the idea and I think the script is good enough to carry it, I just thought the performers were so weak they undermined it. Can absolutely see why people love it though. Expecting to see it make it into a few end of year lists.