The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines ★★★

''The sins of the father reverberate through generations...''

The above statement is a theme ripe for a work of 'Greek tragedy' proportions, a gut-punch of a morality tale that should reverberate long after the end credits, and at 140 mins you would expect nothing less from a talented film-maker of the calibre of Derek Cianfrance...

It's been a long time since I have been angry at a film for it's rapid decline into mediocrity, the promise of the first half at least should have bore enough fruit to carry it through to the end but alas, this film becomes a cautionary tale on how to derail ones film in a single act. Mark my words - This film HAD the goods from the eyegasmic opening long take of Ryan Gosling's glide through the thick of a carnival, to the emotional weight of his soon to be discovered predicament, to the thrilling robbery and chase scenes that climactically welcome in the second act. As we welcome a shift in pace with Bradley Cooper's trajectory, the film and his performance are consistently magnetic and engaging... and then things begin to unravel.

At the halfway point or so, the plot begins to buckle under it's own weight. The first uncomfortable signs began with a visit to the home of Ryan Gosling's son by Bradley Cooper and some corrupt cops, and from here on the plot becomes a minefield of convenient and ludicrous actions and events that feel both forced and rushed. as the '15 Years later' third act is ushered in and we are introduced to the sons of our protagonists, and things hurtle into a state of the ridiculous. We are dealing with underdeveloped characters who we have no investment in, running through a bunch of forced coincidences and contrivances that show no regard for the emotional heft of the previous two acts, and because the teens are both so underdeveloped we could care less.

Gosling, Cooper and Mendes are all excellent and their performances are captured perfectly by Cianfrance. Ray Liotta, Ben Mendelsohn and Rose Byrne anchor the film with solid supporting roles, but the teens at the end seem sadly mis-cast. The film is handsomely photographed, the chase scenes are thrilling and electric and the music from Mike Patton is dead on.

The Place beyond the Pines had me from the word go, and was ranking very highly until it started to fall apart. I have tried to be fair in my final score due to the promise of the first half, but the other 2 stars are wallowing in the mire of a film that could have been...

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