unrelenting bleakness and dour nature of The
Place Beyond the Pines pitches a question about the difference
empathy and sympathy for troubled characters. Each of the film's
male characters makes poor decisions but only because they are trapped
impossible situations, where action seems necessary.
of three of the film's chronological but interlocking chapters uphold
spine of moral ambiguity, only for a clumsy third story to forgo strong
repercussions so that this grim crime saga can resolve itself tidily
undeserved sentimentality. Two overlapping stories, instead of three
ones, would have been leaner and more insightful.
Gosling plays Luke, who travels with a fair performing motorbike
he finds out that he has a child to Romina (Eva Mendes), who is already
someone else now, he quits his job to try to provide for his son. He
from Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), who assists him with robbing banks so that
make enough money to support his son.
chapter two Bradley Cooper is Avery, a cop married to Jennifer (Rose
with a son. Avery is wounded shooting someone dead and is falsely
hero. To redeem himself, he opts to blackmail a group of crooked cops
played by Ray Liotta) and move towards politics. The third story sees
Avery's two boys Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen) growing up
in high school and becoming involved with both theft and drugs.
Pines is essentially a Western
but with motorcycles instead of horses. Films about the Old West were
to the intertwining nature of economics, status and violence. In the
the Frontier, these were pillars of American history, as people
and Manifest Destiny: controlling their destinies under God and often
to violence to achieve and justify the expansion of land and property.
the finest Westerns to deconstruct the myth of righteous violence was
John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
James Stewart played a lawyer, falsely touted as a hero because people
he shot a bandit dead, and this lie helped bolster his political
Pine's second chapter
offers uncanny symmetry, reflecting how an inescapable lie and violence
man into political falsehood. Like many other Westerns, the film's
totalled through the way violence is used by men to protect or avenge
director was Derek Cianfrance, who previously made Blue
Valentine with Ryan Gosling, a startlingly intimate film about
a corroding marriage. Pines is more
of a genre film, posturing as a character study. There are lumps in the
where characterisation remains extremely thin, existing through action
surface than psychology. Both Gosling and Cooper lack personality in
performances, being left to brood humourlessly, like they have been
rein in their charisma levels.
is light on back-story, which makes the initial switch in perspective
to Avery a misstep. At first, it is extremely difficult to sympathise
Cooper's character because he is anonymous to us. His motives gain
when we see that he needs a stronger job, his father is a judge who
advice, and that his colleagues force him into a point of no return.
moral ambiguity of the characters is tested under the weight of the
excessive nihilism. The film believably expresses economic pressure
love and responsibility that men feel for their families.
the extremity of their actions makes their redemption seem unlikely or
impossible. One example is after Luke assaults Eva's partner he is
gaol on bail, but then decides to commit another robbery. Likewise,
decisions are treated as if they are free from choice. Unlike James
character, he chooses to thrive off a lie and the consequences are
third story, in a movie that is two hours and twenty minutes long, I
weary of the films heavy-handedness. The shootings, the beatings, drug
theft, and multiple robberies, began to seem artificial, employed
solely to inflate
the grittiness and self-importance.
credibility of the plotting is also stretched by how contrived the
chapter is, relying on the enormity of the coincidence that both Jason
and AJ would
come to know each on a personal level. The grimness of this chapter
with little relief, again reflecting a movie where your engagement will
on whether you believe the characters are tragically circumstantial or
pain is self-inflicted.