Film Review: The Place Beyond The Pines

The Place Beyond The Pines

Derek Cianfrance’s crime drama The Place Beyond The Pines is utterly compelling.

Luke is a motorcycle stunt driver who performs in a travelling show. When he returns to Schenectady, New York, he aims to reconnect with former lover Romina, who has secretly had his child. Luke’s means of providing for them will have monumental consequences to the lives of several people…

The Place Beyond The Pines ticks all the boxes in terms of being well crafted, well acted, well paced and aesthetically pleasing. Despite a running time that nudges towards two and a half hours, Derek Cianfrance’s film engages the viewer for its entire duration. The narrative progresses in a way which one may not expect, having viewed the trailer. Nonetheless, this is by no means a bad thing. The Place Beyond The Pines covers a significant timeframe, but one that evolves at a suitable pace.

Thematically, The Place Beyond The Pines is circular. The film focuses on the areas of crime, culpability, guilt and pre-destination. This themes are played out in a way which is believable. They are revisited in the film; with a feeling that some of the issues have come full circle. Cianfrance does not depict these themes as black and white, and the film is much stronger for this.

The Place Beyond The Pines is beautifully shot. Frenetic camera work, with lots of movement and a high cutting rate, is combined with slower, pensive shots. The thought that has gone into the look of the film is abundantly clear. The Place Beyond The Pines also boasts an impressive soundtrack. Ryan Gosling offers a convincing performance as Luke. Bradley Cooper is solid as Avery. Eva Mendes and Dane DeHaan are suitably cast in their respective roles.

The Place Beyond The Pines is a fantastic follow-up to Blue Valentine, and highly recommended viewing.

Trailer Round-Up

While the Oscar-nominated films may already be out or due for imminent release, there are plenty of films still to look forward to this year…


Following 2010’s immensely tense 127 Hours, Danny Boyle returns with Trance. The film is a psychological thriller featuring an art auctioneer, a missing painting, a hypnotherapist and a criminal gang. Starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson, Trance is released in UK cinemas on 27th March 2013.

To The Wonder

As the above trailer exhibits, To The Wonder is teeming with the kind of beautiful images we have come to expect from director Terrence Malick. Starring Ben Affleck as a man torn between Olga Kurylenko and Rachel McAdams, To The Wonder is released on 22nd February 2013.

Sammy’s Great Escape

Sammy does not seem to have aged a day! Sammy’s Great Escape appears to be the sequel to A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures. The first film had a definite environmentalist angle, so it will be interesting to see the spin of this new film. Sammy’s Great Escape is in UK cinemas from 15th February 2013.

The Place Beyond The Pines

Ryan Gosling reunites with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance in The Place Beyond The Pines. The crime drama features an all-star cast including Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta. The Place Beyond The Pines is released in UK cinemas on 12th April 2013.

Film Review: Blue Valentine

Blue Valentine is one of the rare films that elicits a strong emotional response. Some viewers may feel emotionally drained after seeing the film, but it is refreshing for a film to provoke a genuine response in this age of desensitisation.

Dean and Cindy are married with a young daughter. Their current troubled relationship contrasts strikingly with the period in which they first got together…

The main reason Blue Valentine is so effective is that it boasts an excellent script from Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis. The interactions between Dean and Cindy appear very natural. The dialogue is very credible, giving the film a very genuine feel.

Director Derek Cianfrance cross-cuts between the present and the past. This technique works exceptionally well to engage viewers. Blue Valentine begins in the present, offering a glimpse into Dean and Cindy’s lives without too much exposition. Slowly, through the flashbacks, more is revealed about their relationship. This gradual release of detail works well to retain a sense of mystery about the origins of the relationship, as well as the cause of the couple’s difficulties. Not every aspect of Dean and Cindy’s marriage is explored; however Blue Valentine does not intend to cover the whole period, just the beginning and the present day.

Dean and Cindy are complicated and multi-faceted protagonists. This makes them highly believable characters. Although one may be empathised with more than the other, they are both distinctly human in their mannerisms and actions.

The camera work gives the film a subdued atmosphere. There are plenty of hand-held shots and close-ups, which give the impression of intimacy with the characters. The natural colours and lighting contrasts well with the artificiality of the hotel room scenes. Tellingly, it suggests something about the changing nature of Dean and Cindy’s relationship.

Ryan Gosling is fantastic as Dean. He brings a natural charisma to the role, but is equally convincing when depicting the darker side of the character’s personality. Michelle Williams is also excellent as Cindy. There is such a change in her persona from the earlier scenes to the contemporary one, but Williams effectively conveys this. A number of years pass from between the periods, but in each both actors are entirely believable. Much of the film success can be attributed to Gosling and Williams’ fine performances.

Although many films are concerned with marriages and relationships, few achieve the painful realism of Blue Valentine. A truly memorable film.