The Place Beyond The Pines (18)

Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Starring Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes
Showing at FACT 19th April 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

Do The Right Thing

Luke Clanton (Gosling) explodes into action amidst a raucous cachophony of sound and miasmal visuals to front a fairground motorcycle stunt riding team. It is not just his bike that is a mean, lean machine - Luke is as tactile as barbed-wire and has emotions to match.

Due to leave with the travelling show he bumps into Romin (Mendes) with whom he had a fling last time in town, the outcome of which was a baby boy, Jason. Luke wants to look after him but she has a new partner and his interference is a bugbear too far. He hangs out with mechanic Robin (Mendelsohn) after they meet speeding through the undergrowth of the title. Business is not good and the pair resort to pulling off daring bank raids.

Rookie Shenectady cop Avery Cross (Cooper) gets the call after Luke goes it alone and botches a heist. A frenetic chase ends with the crux of the film being played out between the two. The victor suffers physically and mentally, impacting on his relationship with his own one-year-old son.

He also disowns his corrupt colleagues (after an intriguing 'who shot first' investigation exhonorates him), in part after an unlawful raid on Romina's place to recover the loot that Luke has forced on her. Amory changes tack to become an Assistant Attorney to escape his malevolent boss (Liotta), after the pines have again had a place in the action.

Fast forward 15 years and the two alienated boys, Jason (DeHaan) and AJ (Cohen) are thrown together at college in New York. Both are wary of friendship but chance popping pills until caught red handed. Facing 5 - 15 years, Avery now in the running for Attorney General, gets them off with a slapped wrist.

After piecing together the critical moments connecting their fathers, things are brought to a head at a party were they fall out. Jason provokes AJ and is beaten up for his trouble; how to effect revenge? The darkened pines will again feature in the finale as will a photograph that has repeatedly kept Luke centre stage.

At 141 minutes Cianfrance's film skillfully holds the attention, helped by fine acting and a reverberating sound track, frenetic or ethereal, mirroring the screenplay. The haunting 'Fratres' by Arvo Part catches the mood when the real issues are addressed. Ben Iver's 'The Wolves' went up with the credits - but whose if anyone's door will they turn up on?

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