THE MEMORY REMAINS
Spanning two decades and focusing upon numerous intricately crafted characters, The Place Beyond the Pines is a brave, bold and wildly beautiful picture show offering a defiant lesson in how to fashion twenty-first century iconography. Reuniting Derek Cianfrance and leading man Ryan Gosling, the pair pick up where they left off with 2010’s Blue Valentine; holding the fractured relationships between lovers and families beneath a magnifying glass and revealing the heart-breaking circumstances which constantly threaten to swallow them up.
After unexpectedly discovering he has fathered a child, motorcycle stunt rider Luke (Gosling) turns to the outlaw lifestyle of robbing banks as a means supporting his son and baby momma, Romina – portrayed by Gosling’s real life squeeze Eva Mendez. Luke’s drive to prove his love and capabilities as a provider for his estranged family forces him to become more reckless and brazen placing him on a collision course with Rookie cop, Avery (Bradley Cooper) setting in motion a series of events and consequences that span fifteen years of time and bloodlines – ensuring that the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son.
The Place Beyond the Pines rips and tears at your expectations for both better and worse, guaranteeing that the memory of this contemporary fable remains long after the credits find their cue. For what feels like a fleeting moment it perfectly accommodates those teaser trailer anticipations before suddenly transforming itself into a vastly different film with a far more grandiose narrative. You ultimately find yourself wishing that certain elements of the story remained and stuck around so you could get better acquainted with their every subtle nuance – but the nature of Cianfrance’s newfound scope requires a certain degree of storytelling ruthlessness that proves as impactful as it is frustrating.
Casting is impeccable as Gosling, Cooper and Mendes’ powerful performances are backed-up by a highly accomplished supporting cast, especially in the cases of Ray Liotta and Ben Mendelsohn. After their joint venture through Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, the pair once again prove themselves as potent character actors capable of capitalizing upon little screen time with captivating under your skin performances. Aesthetically, the picture must be saluted for its top to bottom visual prowess. From costume design to cinematography the film is gorgeous, overflowing with stunningly lit scenes and photography that doesn’t just belong on a cinema screen but a gallery wall. Talismanic Faith No More frontman, Mike Patton, also provides a score brimming with dislocation and widescreen temperament, reinforcing and deservedly glorifying the tiniest of mannerisms; the blank stares, the mumbled dialogue, the cigarettes dangling from lips and most importantly the unflinching ambition onscreen.
The film carries the accolade of not being the strongest, most technically and conventionally accomplished picture in terms of plotting, pacing and self-editing on the part of Cianfrance yet somehow still manages to emerge on the other side as the best film of 2013 so far. The Place Beyond the Pines is a breath-taking and enchanting cinematic landmark, race to it and admire the view.