Average User Score: 7.7May 1, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Ryan Gosling embodies Luke Glanton, the relentless force of nature rousing The Place beyond The Pines. An engrossing one-shot opening sequence tracks Glanton’s movements through to the stunt bike rider’s death-defying performance within a caged orb. He sustains his velocity upon his release as he pursues leading-lady Eva Mendes and this hurtling through life intensifies under emotional charge, inevitably (in hindsight) resulting in his rapid exit. What follows is effectively an ode to the magnetism and impact of the character, whose absence is as prominent as his presence was striking. His momentum is shown to continue through a vague spiritual connection to Bradley Cooper’s generally prosaic character. Later, the on-going shockwaves of Glanton’s life impact upon others and his legend haunts in a manner reminiscent of the distant piano keys in the theme song, filtering through to his troubled and introspectively immersed son’s late incarnation as the doomed rider. Yet, despite the best efforts to appease, his on-screen aura is long lost.
The oblique introduction of Cooper as Avery Cross, a central figure, is a directorial masterstroke and emphasizes the arbitrary nature of the new lead character becoming embroiled in to chaos. Just as at the start of the film, the heights of the professional exploits of a lead character are the source of information we observe, before the camera pans out to reveal more about the subject’s personality. This is mirrored by the initial delay in the revealing of the character’s face, demanding the need to look further in the pursuit of identity. It occurs during a phenomenal chase scene, where palpable realism causes the viewer to disengage from the suspension of disbelief and marvel at the escape attempt. It is a moment which combines both the embrace and abandonment of self-preservation; a visual summary of Glanton, before Cross and Glanton tag-in and out of the film with bullets, as the shock marinades during a striking depiction of the finality of death, as juxtaposed against the excesses of Glanton’s life.
Bound to despair by their own flaws and encapsulated by their location, Eva Mendes's character, Romina, displays contradictions that seem fleetingly implausible but serve to heighten her vulnerability, as she swings between rational independence and infatuated naiveté in the face of the transmitter of all affliction; Glanton. Elsewhere, Ben Mendelsohn’s loneliness elicits empathy and Bruce Greenwood’s steely conviction coated in professional pleasantries, is outstanding. Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography is an enduring treat, delivered through subtle use of rich textures and coloring, accompanying techniques that present action which supersedes any need for blockbusting visual effects. Meanwhile Ray Liotta is easy to despise as a corrupt cop, yet he joins the ranks of the fringe characters whose placement emphasizes blundering plot conclusions, in the attempt to generate the momentum lost in the first of the three disjointed acts.… Expand