“The Place Beyond the Pines” is one of those films that feels as if it could have become a classic, but unfortunately only exhausts the surface of its enormous potential. Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn and Mahershala Ali, Pines tells three separate but intertwined stories about fathers and the impact their choices have on their sons. It is an intriguing exercise that spans multiple periods of time, none of which flow together in a satisfactory way.
Director Derek Cianfrance provides the occasional spectacle – notably a couple of exciting motorbike sequences early on – but directs the 2012 film with an iron fist, making the hefty 140-minute production more of a chore than a revelation.
Still, Cianfrance at least has the guts to kill off a notable main character early on, which is something you don’t see too often, and the talented director makes the most of his extraordinary cast.
Unfortunately, as the story progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to care for the increasingly mundane plots, the characters’ overlapping lives, and the overall meaning of the story. As David Denby observed in The New Yorker: “[‘Pines’] holds your attention from moment to moment, [but] in the end, makes you reach for the experience you didn’t have.”