The Place Beyond the Pines – Review (Spoiler Free)

The Place Beyond the Pines Film PosterCianfrance’s second film after Blue Valentine (also starring Ryan Gosling) is once again a film dealing with turmoil and human struggle, even though in scope his two films are close to being at opposite ends of the spectrum. Blue Valentine was a very intimate examination of a relationship between two people over a number of years, The Place Beyond the Pines however is attempting to be an epic tale of fathers and sons, as well as crime and punishment, and justice and corruption. It takes on a lot of material to deal with and consequently comes in at 140 minutes, a length of time which the film ultimately does justify.

Ryan Gosling plays Luke, a motorcycle stunt rider who when is unexpectedly presented with a child by his lover (Eva Mendes), decides to stick around and provide for them as best he can. This soon leads to him deciding to rob banks in order to acquire the needed money, a decision which ultimately puts him on a crash course with Bradley Cooper’s character Avery Cross – an ambitious police officer working within a corrupt department. The result of this meeting sends shockwaves through both men and their families, setting events into motion which will linger for generations.

The performances given here by everybody are excellent, with Gosling easily being the standout. He brings a magnetism to the screen which very few actors are capable off. His character has a simmering danger about him, but that is backed with a strong emotional core that makes his performance here rank amongst his very best work, which is saying something. I’m not going to talk any more about him because there will be no room for anything else in this review, but Ryan Gosling is one of the absolute best actors around today, and this performance does nothing to disprove that statement.


Bradley Cooper does some very good work here too, he’s an actor which I have only recently been familiarising myself with and he is showing a lot of promise right now. Eva Mendes is forgotten about a little in the film, she gives a very solid performance but in a tale of fathers and sons the mother figure isn’t really given a spotlight. As to the sons, both actors do well here with Emory Cohen not being given too much development to work with, but doing just fine with what he has. Dane DeHaan is very good as Luke’s son (Gosling) – he pretty much has to lead the third act and despite being proceeded by Cooper and Gosling he pulls through well.

This is not a very safe movie, it takes multiple big risks and I’m very pleased to be able to say that it pulls them off successfully. Derek Cianfrance is a very exciting director at the moment. He seemingly can guide his actors into giving excellent performances, he has a very strong eye for directing his films both artistically and as a storyteller, he has proved twice now that he can write and direct big emotions well and honestly, and the motorbike chase sequences in this film were very intense – and so it seems he may be able to direct action pretty well as well. It’s going to be very interesting to watch his work develop over the next ten or so years.

The Place Beyond the Pines is easily the best film of 2013 so far. It presents so many possible directions in which the film could go, and this is both frustrating but also incredibly praiseworthy. It simply means that I wanted to spend more time with all of the different characters. Despite this though, the film and its director know what they want to achieve and succeed at realising that on the screen. It may lose a lot of its initial momentum after the first act is over, but once we get accustomed to the film’s change of pace this one holds our attention and stays in our minds long after the credits roll.


  1. I STILL haven’t managed to see this. Hope I’m going to get there before it goes off circuit!

    1. Oh you definitely should aim to see it ASAP!

  2. I’m really looking forward to seeing this film. I hope to see it within the next few weeks. Nice review.

    1. Thanks, I hope you enjoy it. I’m pretty confident that you will!

  3. Nice write-up Mr Rumsey. Can’t wait to see this one next week!

    1. Thank you and excellent! Looking forward to reading your thoughts 🙂

  4. Good review Rumsey. The cast is nowhere near to be pointed fingers at. It’s more of the script that really lets them down.

    1. Cheers, I don’t know that I would say that the script really lets them down, but the cast certainly are the stronger of the two.

  5. Great review, I’ve got to see this.

    1. You most definitely have man!

  6. Not reading anything about it but I cant wait to see it!! 🙂

    1. Not reading anything is a pretty sound decision, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  7. Glad to hear you liked this one as well, James. I thought it was epic. The acting was top-notch, there’s no doubt about it. You’re right, it’s not a “safe” movie. I think it takes multiple risks… mainly in changing perspective so often. That’s one big thing. Plus covering as much ground as it does… thats another.

    1. Yeah the changes in perspective were its bravest decisions in my opinion.
      I don’t think I can quite give it the title of epic myself, but it wasn’t all that far off! I think the first act was easily the strongest and not just because of Gosling; it was urgent, and more involving than the other two.

  8. Agreed about the mother figure not getting a big spotlight lol, Mendes was great and Byrne was good, but they were both just kinda there at points lol. Great review, Rumsey. It certainly leaves a lasting impression!

    1. “It certainly leaving a lasting impression” meaning the movie, if that wasn’t too clear, lol.

      1. Thank you, and you can say that about my review if you like! 😀

  9. Great review. REALLY want to see this one. Bog fan of Gosling and Cooper.

    1. Thanks, this one is pretty much made for you then! They both strongly deliver.

  10. Nice review. This one has received a pretty wide range of reviews. I haven’t seen it yet but the varying opinions intrigue me.

    1. Thanks, it’s pretty good and is definitely worth checking out!

  11. Natalie P · · Reply

    Nice review 🙂
    I really want to see this film since you showed me the trailer!

    1. Thank you, it’s pretty good!

  12. Nice review, My favorite film of the year thus far. Not a perfect film but as you said they take a lot of chances.

    1. Thank you, yeah I’m hoping that a couple of films will top this one by the time the year is out – but it will surely be a contender for my top ten of 2013 I would say.

  13. Very positive to hear, looking forward to talking to you about it after I see it.

    1. Yeah man, I hope you like it!

  14. I’m not really a fan of the cast but I might give it a rent one day. Yeah I know, I’m probably the only person not too excited about this one, ahah.

    1. Not even Gosling?! 😀
      I think you may be the only one, obviously I do recommend that you rent it when it comes out!

      1. Especially Gosling, ahah. Yep, I’m proud to be the only one who don’t find him attractive 😀 Might give this movie a rent though.

        1. We’re going to have to agree to disagree about Gosling! I think he is one of the best actors working today.
          Do it! 😀

  15. I was so disappointed with this film. The opening section of the film is tremendous, and easily the most accomplished chapter of the film. The second story is where Pines starts to go downhill. The film starts off with an exciting an unpredictable story that moves into a police corruption scandal that we’ve seen so many times before. The story is quickly running out of steam as everything gets less exciting and turns into a cliché of better films. If I had to pinpoint the films biggest problem, it does come down to the script. Everything in the film feels like a series of events jumping from one another without any direction just to keep the story going.

    Although, I can appreciate its music and cinematography.

    1. I can see exactly where you are coming from, although I thought that the second act worked well, even if it was much more familiar. Perhaps because of Cooper’s great performance.
      The film definitely is at its strongest in the first act, and the way that it lingers over the rest of the film is sort of a double edged sword really. It works considering how it affects the rest of the film, but it also serves as a reminder of how alive and exciting the movie started out as.

  16. […] Place Beyond the Pines got more high praise this week from The Phi Phenomenon, Mr Rumsey’s Film Related Musings, The Cinema Monster, Cinema Parrot Disco, and Daniel’s Film Reviews. Wait, did someone say […]

  17. I like the non-spoiler aspect of your review, but why not give it some sort of a grade? What would you rate it, from 1 to 10?

    1. Thanks, I decided to not to use grades when I set up this website but I do personally use IMDb and gave this film an 8 out of 10.

  18. Just finished watching it this morning and I absolutely loved it. Great story and loved the various long shots the film had.

    1. I’m glad to hear that you loved it. It took some risky moves didn’t it?
      The opening shot was particularly well done I thought.

      1. Yeah, that opening shot was cool!

  19. Good review, although I wasn’t the biggest fan of this film, it was well shot for sure! Check out my review if you get the time 🙂

    1. Thank you, and thanks for stopping by! I’ll take a look now.

  20. […] “Gosling brings magnetism to the screen which only very few actors are capable off.” — James from Mr. Rumsey’s Film-Related Musings (read the review) […]

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