As the title suggests, Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is an exploration of the things that happen “beyond” the physical habitation and expectations of society. Examining corruption on all levels, including within the home, the workplace and the world at large, the various characters are forced into uneasy situations.
Aligning criminal outcast (Ryan Gosling) with policeman (Bradley Cooper) allows Cianfrance to contrast their distinct experiences of life in the same place. However, the film is overrun with a multitude of plot lines and protagonists. Consequently, by the end of the movie, the audience has little vested interest in the remaining characters; instead they are exhausted by the feeling that two scripts have been bookended together.
The real strength comes from Ryan Gosling’s captivating portrayal of Luke, carrying the film whenever he is on screen. Although The Place Beyond the Pines carries moments of genuine beauty, it is hampered by misplaced performances and a storyline that spins out into indifference.