Focus Feature's The Place Beyond the Pines follows biker daredevil Luke (Ryan Gosling), who turns to bank robbery to provide for an old flame (Eva Mendes) and his newly born son. The movie also features Bradley Cooper as a rising police officer on Luke's tail, with their stories entangling to show the paths they travel when dealing with fate.
Gosling's Blue Valentine director, Derek Cianfrance, helmed the project.
From a romantic story highlighting the responsibilities of a father to a rookie cop who faces a corrupt detective, the film connects three stories throughout a period of 15 years. Most critics of the film felt that, although there were strong moments, it wasn’t enough to tie the plot together into a cohesive and flowing drama.
Read what some of the critics had to say below.
The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney says that the film packs moments of searing power but cannot match the raw intimacy of Blue Valentine. He writes that the film is “a somber and striking drama that takes some wrong turns, but features a charismatic performance from Ryan Gosling in the leanest and best of its three sections.
Associated Press critic Christy Lemire says that even Gosling’s shirtless opening can’t save the film. She writes that The Place Beyond the Pines “aims admirably for an epic sense of Greek tragedy, and it does have some powerful individual moments, but the characters are all so underdeveloped that the whole effort feels like studied posturing."
Village Voice’s Scott Foundas calls Gosling the "trailer park Prince Valiant." He writes, "Sure to inspire indifference and cultish admiration in nearly equal measure, this extravagant mess may someday be re-evaluated as a misunderstood masterpiece."
New York Magazine critic David Edelstein praises Gosling’s scenes as the most vivid and says that Cooper has "a couple of fine intense moments" as well. "The segments are essentially monodramas, so sketchily written that the big moments feel less like recognizable human behavior than recognizable screenwriter overreaching."
Entertainment Weekly critic Chris Nashawaty says that he cannot blame the director for being ambitious, but it does not always mean that one will love where it takes him. "The Place Beyond the Pines wants to be a deep-dish meditation on fathers, sons, and the consequences of the decisions we make. But it's a slow-burner that burns so slowly its wick completely fizzles out."
Indiewire's Eric Kohn feels that Cianfrance's ambition takes him in a satisfying direction. He says, "With Pines, the gamble pays off ... (That) the movie succeeds both as a high-stakes crime thriller as well as a far quieter and empathetic study of angry, solitary men proves that Cianfrance has a penchant for bold storytelling and an eye for performances to carry it through," he notes.