Crime-thrillers often make for fascinating movies; more so, when the screenplay of the film is spruced with innocuous mind games and dichotomous characters. ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’, starring Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, is an intriguing three-part film which revolves around how decisions made by a stunt motorcyclist and a dutiful police officer, affect the lives of their families. It is directed by Derek Cianfrance of ‘Blue Valentine’ fame.
Its wonderful story and screenplay, backed with awesome performances, make ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ one of the better crime-thrillers to have come out in recent times. The multi-layered characters (and by layered, I mean sometimes greedy and sometimes selfless, sometimes bound by duty and sometimes by fate, sometimes white and mostly black), performed by the cast with much aplomb, make the film very real and relatable. An absolutely brilliant story about relationships, revenge and forgiveness, ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ is ‘edge-of-the-seat’ stuff. Clocking in at 2 hours 20 minutes, the film doesn’t seem long at all.
A stunt motorcyclist, Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling), is trying very hard to reconnect with his former girlfriend and the mother of his new-born child, Romina (Eva Mendes). In order to provide for her and his child Jason, Luke quits motorcycle racing and starts robbing banks. Being a rider, Luke lives life on the edge and is absolutely unapologetic about his actions.
Police officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) is looking for growth at his workplace, but is pulled back by the rampant corruption in the department.
Two boys, studying in high school, Jason (Luke’s son) and AJ Cross (Avery’s son), fall into trouble with drugs, which leads to a lot of drama and some bloodshed.
The film is about how the lives of the aforementioned characters entwine. The film tackles relationships very well. Be it Luke’s and Romina’s romantic liaison, Avery’s turbulent relationship with his wife and son, Jason’s equation with AJ Cross, and Avery’s fabulous camaraderie with his father, the highs and lows of any normal relationship have been encapsulated brilliantly by the writers.
It even deals with the dichotomy that most of us often find ourselves in – ‘whose side to take?’. It’s true that if you stand for something right/wrong, you have to bear the consequences eventually. The characters are etched in such a meticulous manner, that you may find yourself sympathizing with the criminal at some points and cursing the righteous individual at others.
On the technical front, the film excels purely on its writing (Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder). The score, composed by Mike Patton, is eerily delightful. In addition, the camerawork (Sean Bobbitt) wonderfully compliments the dark, gritty theme of the film. As a viewer, I connected with this film on several grounds – forgiveness, righteousness, ambition and compassion. The story is bound to strike a chord with you at some level or the other.
The film, just like its title, is open to several interpretations. It stays with you for a long time after you’ve watched it.