The Place Beyond the Pines

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 12:54
Posted in Blu-Ray
Written by 

The Place Beyond The Pines - out on Blu-ray and DVDRyan Gosling and Bradley Cooper star in this thriller about a drifter who resorts to robbing banks after discovering that he has a newborn son he wants to support. His trajectory puts him into the path of an up-and-coming cop (Cooper) who is trying to remain on the level in a police force peppered with corruption. The film then jumps forwards 15 years to see how the two characters’ sons have coped with the repercussions of their fathers’ choices.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”), the film also stars Eva Mendes (“Hitch”, “2 Fast 2 Furious”) as Gosling’s old flame, Rose Byrne (“Insidious”, Damages) as Cooper’s wife, Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”, “Hannibal”) as a bent cop and Bruce Greenwood (“Star Trek: Into Darkness”, “I, Robot”) as a district attorney. It is a riveting study of guilt, revenge and the male struggle to find and establish one’s place in the world.

The film is named after the Mohawk meaning for the movie’s wider setting, a city in New York State called Schenectady. Its focus is generally narrower, however – that of small-town America and the inescapable tensions that can violently bubble to the surface.

The characterisation is top-notch. Luke (played by a blond-haired, mass-tattooed Gosling) is a circus stuntman who leaves his dare-devil life behind to try to reclaim the affections of his past love and do the right thing for his son, only to engage in a far more risky activity. Gosling is perfectly cast, contrastingly full of blue-eyed dreaminess whilst possessing a very short-fused temper. Cooper is cunningly cast against type as an everyman, a scared, insecure cop who never-the-less is determined to do the right thing.

The action is typically shot up close and personal, bringing the audience right into events. There are several exciting road chases and the bank robbery scenes are nail-biting. The dramatic, character moments are equally powerful and engaging, and regardless of whether the protagonists have done good or ill, they are imbued with human vulnerabilities and likeable qualities that compel you to want to see where they each end up.

The movie reminded me of Stallone’s “Cop Land” as well as Twin Peaks (not least for the inevitable sense of karma and the pine-dominating scenery). It is also reminiscent of “Drive”, Gosling’s previous hit; he is carving a niche as handsome, gutsy but flawed characters.

At 140 minutes the movie is quite long, but even then it feels a little bit confined in the film format. Its structure and scope seem to lend themselves more to a TV series or mini-series so that each act can be fully explored. Having said that, I did find myself thoroughly captivated, and recommend the film to those who like their action to be more emotionally complex and thoughtful.

Special features bundled with both versions include:

  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Featurette: Going to The Place Beyond the Pines
  • Commentary by director Derek Cianfrance
  • Trailer

 

The featurette is very brief but at least you also get a handful of deleted or extended scenes and the commentary track. In terms of the quality of the Blu-ray version reviewed, it does a fantastic job of bringing out the lush colours of the New York State landscape, and admirably handles both the orchestral and hip-hop music on the excellent soundtrack.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” (2012) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Studiocanal. The main feature has a running time of 140 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £19.99 on DVD and £24.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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