If you read my recent review of Harmony Korine’s brilliant Spring Breakers, then you’ll be aware that The Place Beyond the Pines is one movie that I have been eagerly anticipating for a very long time.

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Directed by Derek Cianfrance, The Place Beyond the Pines sees the director team up once again with Ryan Gosling, who this time round plays a motorcycle stunt rider, who turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and new-born child. This decision ultimately puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.

To call The Place Beyond the Pines ambitious would be a definite understatement. The film is essentially three intertwining tales told over the course of fifteen years, and the way each story is told is truly captivating. However my biggest gripe with the film is simple.

After a phenomenal first segment the film slowly begins to go downhill. Now I’m not saying that the remainder of the movie is poor, because this is certainly one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year, it’s just that the opening hour sets the bar so high, the rest of the film unfortunately struggles to compete. In fact I would actually regard the first hour as some of the finest cinema I’ve ever seen, and the reason I say that is simple, it’s all due to what a presence Ryan Gosling is on screen.

The man truly is phenomenal in this film. Now I may be a bit biased as Drive is one of my favourite films of all time, but he certainly gives one of the defining performances of his career thus far, who knows it may even be his best. The man truly is a real presence on screen and in my opinion although Bradley Cooper is exceptional, I was never as captivated by his story as I was by Gosling’s. That being said the ensemble cast all do a great job. For example the film also stars Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood, Dane DeHaan and the always brilliant Ben Mendelsohn.

In terms of direction the film is guided very well. As I said, the remainder has difficulty living up to an excellent first half, but there’s no denying how brilliant the script of the film is and how good Derek Cianfrance is behind the camera. Some of the shots in this movie are marvellous. The bike sequences, as well as the chase sequences are so well filmed that the film just grabs you and refuses to let go. One shot that sticks out in my mind the most is the one used during the opening sequence. The way in which this sequence is filmed is absolutely stunning. There are a lot of continuous shots used in this film and they all work, arguably the cinematography is one of the many factors that make the movie so good.

The score is tremendous and the small town setting just adds that extra something. At times it’s incredibly tense and although the first half is probably too good, the rest is still very enjoyable. I have to confess I did expect a little more from the movie, due to my expectations being so high, but the end result nonetheless is a great movie that I would recommend to absolutely anyone.

8.5/10

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