Powerful places

OUT NOW! Ambitious drama THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES has its flaws but makes for muscular, arresting viewing.

A year after dirtbike daredevil ‘Handsome Luke’ (Gosling) meets Romina (Mendes), he returns to find her married and nursing his baby, Jason.

Determined to shoulder his paternal responsibilities, Luke quits the carnival and finds a job with mechanic Robin. But to support his family and win back Romina’s love, he exchanges wrench for revolver, holding up Schenectady’s banks and racing away.

When Luke decides to heist two in one day, he finds himself head-to-head with ruthlessly ambitious cop Avery (Cooper), sparking circles of violence that cross generations as conflict is passed on to their sons: a teenaged Jason being bullied by Avery’s son AJ. Each has decisive moments beyond the pines, which seal their fates and ultimately culminate in Jason’s choice to both reject and follow in his father’s tracks.

A triptych of father and son stories, The Place Beyond The Pines is Derek Cianfrance’s antidote to the dying romance of Blue Valentine. Although this high-octane, colour fully circular study of masculinity and violence is carefully plotted and clever, it occasionally loses pace to its tripartite twists but remains powerful enough to set hearts racing.

The Place Beyond The Pines | Directed by Derek Cianfrance (USA 2012) with Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper. Starts June 13.

Originally published in issue #117, June 2013