The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) – By Amy Howerska

16th February 2016

The Place Beyond The Pines

One might be forgiven for going to see A Place Beyond The Pines expecting a sophisticated crime thriller, (because that’s how it is marketed), instead you get an art house exploration of identity , masculinity and fatherhood, namely the importance of fatherhood as the solid foundation of personality and domesticity. First we meet Cooper as a police officer named Avery. A man struggling to form his own identity separate from his successful domineering but ultimately loving father, which is paralleled and contrasted by Gosling’s Luke. A fatherless carnie worked, who on discovering he has a child, tries to break the cycle of dysfunction, but sadly lacking a father of his own to guide him, his attempts end in tragedy. Whilst Cooper’s Avery makes serious mistakes his social standing /back ground and grounded family life allow him to navigate life’s difficulties.

It’s a clever film, it works on a few levels and there is some absolutely stunning, but slightly too self-conscious cinematography. Gosling framed as some kind of fifties matinee idol, continually chain smoking or sobbing lightly in a church as he is haloed through stain glass. Aerial shots of Luke’s son Jason, (Dane Deehan), as he follows his own lonesome path on a pushbike. It’s a brooding masculine film, incredibly challenging with some heart wrenching performances, but it feels oddly incomplete and sometimes lazy. Almost as if every turning point in the plot has been decided by shaking a magic 8 ball and asking what happens next? One could interpret this as a chaotic but poetic reflection of life. Sadly it feels artificial, like the over lit sobbing Gosling. Aside from the  pretensions if you are a man- into motorbikes or a braless Eva Mendes you will find plenty to enjoy in The Place Beyond The Pines a film that reels you in with the promise of Gosling to remind you how well Bradley Cooper can act.

Written by Amy Howerska