Brief: The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines
The less I say about this film's plot, the better, as, for better and for worse, it is almost impossible to predict where the film will end based on where it begins. Derek Cianfrance's follow-up to the masterful Blue Valentine overreaches at times, but its a film of startling ambition, which begins with the compact sense of time, place, and character of an amazing noir short-story and becomes ever more expansive from there. The Place Beyond the Pines is novellic in its aims, and the way it sprawls out is often fascinating to watch, but its hard not to feel that something is lost with every shift the story takes outward, with every move it makes towards examining the ripples of its characters' actions.

Ryan Gosling continues a streak of phenomenal minimalist performances, giving his character here a lived in sense of aimlessness that combines fascinatingly with his newfound sense of responsibility. The results are almost inevitable, but Gosling handles each turn the story takes with aplomb, and everything feels like a natural outgrowth of his character. Bradley Cooper is also excellent (and damn it, with this and Silver Linings Playbook, I may actually have to start paying attention to him as an actor worth taking seriously), giving phenomenal shading to a character that could easily have felt bound up in plot contrivances in lesser hands. Ultimately, the film is at its best when it is at its narrowest, and its earlier scenes have the tight focus and subtle insight of great short fiction. The film is lessened as it is broadened, but it is hard not to admire what Cianfrance attempts here, and difficult, too, not to be moved by the film's resolution.

Read more of Jordan's Film Criticism here
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