When director Derek Cianfrance and chameleon heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling teamed up in 2010’s ‘Blue Valentine’, we witnessed screen magic - albeit in one of the most depressing films made - but the chemistry and a beautiful working relationship were forged. Three years later, the re-teaming of this actor/director combo hasn’t quite struck gold again - close, but just falling short of their previous accomplishment.
‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ is a film told in three very distinct acts. Set over almost two decades, we start with a stunt carnival motorbike rider Luke (Gosling), who uses his unique skills to rob banks in order to provide for his lover and newborn child. When local cop Avery (Bradley Cooper) gets involved, he sees the consequences of his actions effect himself and his family for the rest of their lives in ways never thought possible.
While stunningly shot with an impressive use of long single takes along with a great cast, director and script all set in place, it’s the end result that falls just shy of its potential. The melodramatic third and final act disappointingly pulls the story out of the realm of possibility and probability and into soap opera territory.
Gosling and Cooper deliver beautifully nuanced performances. Newcomer and trailblazer Dane DeHaan just keeps going from strength to strength with each role, never leaving anything in the tank. And once again Aussie Ben Mendelsohn just makes you want to fly while pointing to screen and shouting “That’s what you’ve been missing for the last 30 years, world!”
The end result that falls just shy of its potential.
The film’s stellar cast are its saving grace, with the film's overreaching and therefore ambiguous theme creating too much confusion as the final credits roll. All the elements and moments in the story that were once so clear and obvious become murkier and murkier the further you step away from the cinema.
The resulting film is more simply the story it wanted to tell without also revealing why it wanted to tell it.