The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines ★★★

Film#27 of 'It's June Jim, but not as we know it'

It's probably too early to tell, but I'm afraid Cianfrance is going to be a frustrating director for me. His first film, Blue Valentine, was beautiful and well acted, but succumbed under its narrative structure.

The Place beyond the Pines has similar problems. Its structure, a classic linked triptych, is hampered by a fantastic opening with two subsequent parts that are both lacking in quality and are muddied by contrivances getting in the way of credible character development and genuine drama.

Cianfrance's talents obviously lie in getting the most out of his actors and creating incredible scenes. The cast is uniformly excellent and the director's visual style is pleasing. There are instances of unbridled creativity (the opening scene springs to mind) which are unfortunately never matched by the narrative.

It's an ambitious project that collapses under its own weight. The opening part is easily the best, mainly because we don't know where we're going. From very early on in the second part it just becomes too familiar to my liking and by changing perspective I lost whatever connection I had to characters previously introduced.

Furthermore, the plot points that are supposed to provide dramatic tension in the second part are either skimmed over or extremely generic. Even worse is the final part. It plays out exactly how you expect it to and completely hinges on circumstance and chance. This type of deus ex machina is forgivable, but the shallow predictability robbing the film of its dramatic potential is a thing I cannot easily step over. The final act also makes the already overlong running time feel even longer.

Even though I had many problems with it, it is difficult to ignore the director's talent who clearly knows how to film, but who, according to me at least, has problems telling a story.

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