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Overall Rating
2.57

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 21.43%
Average: 21.43%
Pretty Bad50%
Total Crap: 7.14%

1 review, 8 user ratings


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Place Beyond The Pines, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Upstate New York Stories"
2 stars

Derek Cianfrance made one of the more notable directorial debuts a couple of years ago with "Blue Valentine," a powerful examination of a troubled marriage featuring stunning performances by Michelle Williams, who received an Oscar nomination for her efforts, and Ryan Gosling, who deserved one for his. Now Cianfrance has returned with his follow-up film, "The Place Beyond the Pines," but has fallen victim to the dreaded sophomore slump with a melodramatic misfire of such epic proportions that I wasn't so much upset with it as I was shocked and surprised by how completely it misses the mark.

This time around, Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt driver in a traveling carnival and while appearing in Schenectady, he runs across a local girl (Eva Mendes) that he had a one-night stand with the previous year and discovers that he has a son. In a misguided effort to involve himself in their lives and deal with his personal issues regarding his own absentee father, Gosling turns to robbing banks and using his cycling skills to help make his getaways. Eventually, he crosses with Bradley Cooper, a rookie cop with his own family and issues with his own dad (Harris Yulin), a judge who wants his son to practice law and not enforce it. The film now follows Cooper as he stumbles across corruption in the police department and uses that information to turn in his fellow cops as a first stepping stone for his blossoming political ambitions. Eventually, the film shifts fifteen years into the future where we witness Gosling and Cooper's now-grown sons (Dane DeHaan and Emory Cohen) as they cross paths via a friendship that soon turns sour when their previously unknown connection is discovered.

Watching this film, I found it almost impossible to believe the person who gave us something as tightly drawn and dramatically intriguing as "Blue Valentine" could have been responsible for something this sloppy and unfocused. His screenplay, which he co-wrote with , feels less like a fully-formed narrative and more like three half-developed story ideas jammed together in the hope of making something long and complicated enough for lazier critics to immediately refer to it as an epic. In addition, the film has exactly one idea to convey--the not-exactly-original notion that the sins of the father are passed on to the sons--and hammers it to death without ever coming up with something new to say about the subject. The dialogue is often shockingly amateurish--seesawing between the ridiculously blunt likes of "Hey--what's the deal with my dad" and pseudo-profound nonsense like "If you ride like lightning, you are going to crash like thunder--none of the characters are especially interesting, the performances run the gamut from the adequate (both Gosling and Cooper are okay here but have done better work elsewhere) to the terrible (I usually like Eva Mendes but is unable to do anything with the nothing character that she has been stuck with here.)

With its sprawling narrative and large cast of characters, "The Place Beyond the Pines" certainly cannot be accused of having a lack of ambition but this time around, Cianfrance's reach has significant exceeded his grasp and the result is a baffling bore that feels as if it runs maybe three times longer than its already-agonizing 140 minute running time. The best thing that can be said about it is that it is such an unwieldy mess that it will hopefully serve as a deck clearer for Cianfrance to get rid of all his pretentious notions and bad ideas in one fell swoop. Hopefully out of his system this time around and with his next project, he presents us with something worthy of his considerable talents.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=24082&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/05/13 08:09:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/16/15 PAUL SHORTT POWERFUL, WELL MADE, THOUGHT-PROVOKING DRAMA WITH A GOOD CAST 4 stars
3/10/14 mr.mike It was "no bad". 4 stars
12/05/13 damalc a bit heavy-handed with coincidences and melodrams 3 stars
11/23/13 Lord Melodramatic shit 1 stars
9/28/13 Monday Morning Long, but boring. And disjointed. And made no sense. Otherwise great. 3 stars
9/11/13 Kymberly Pray It's as though it was two films, and I only really enjoyed and "got" the first half. 2 stars
5/21/13 Langano Well done. 4 stars
4/15/13 Monday Morning Haven't seen, but PS's review sound like it's a real mess - way too many disparate concepts 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Mar-2013 (R)
  DVD: 06-Aug-2013

UK
  N/A

Australia
  29-Mar-2013
  DVD: 06-Aug-2013




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