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THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES Movie Review

Ryan Gosling & Eva Mendes in The Place Beyond the Pines. Photo: Atsushi Nishijima. © 2013 Focus Features.

Release Date:..Mar. 29, 2013 (LIMITED)||Rated:..R||Running Time:..140 min.

The Place Beyond the Pines, the latest film by director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), is a poignant and haunting look at how fathers’ transgressions inevitably become their sons’ burdens. Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Ray Liotta, Pines also features Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Mahershala Ali, and Ben Mendelsohn.

With a running time over two hours, Pines is long but not slow. Those who found Blue Valentine too sedate will revel in the seemingly faster pace of Pines, created by dividing the film into a three-part tale and setting it to dramatically gripping original music. Told chronologically, each of the story’s parts could stand alone, but is made stronger by its connection to the other two.

Ryan Gosling’s incredible facility with emotional manipulation is evident in his portrayal of ‘Luke,’ a reticent outsider never meant to be confined by the bonds and bounds of civilized society. Though desperate to do right by his son, Luke’s want of marketable skills and violent temper render him woefully ill-equipped to be anyone’s support system. Almost wordlessly, Gosling powerfully expresses Luke’s desperation as a powerful and driving physical compulsion. Although he needs few words to aid him in this endeavor, those that he does speak are simply heartbreaking.

the place beyond the pines

Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines. Photo: Atsushi Nishijima. © 2013 Focus Features.

Pines‘ world of the devastatingly downtrodden also features characters ably played by Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, and Dane DeHaan. Each is haunted by the secrets and lies of their respective—and shared—pasts. Each tries to right their past wrongs. And each pays a personal price when one proves how inescapably true the saying “like father, like son” really is.

Pines hijacks control of the audience’s emotions from the first rev of Gosling’s motorcycle engine, and refuses to let go until its tragic tale is complete. An emotional roller coaster characterized by the incredibly strong performances of each and every member of its cast, this film is one ride you don’t want to miss.

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The Author

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.