The new DVD release “The Place Beyond the Pines” wants to be a story about fathers and sons and how character traits of the former can be passed to the latter. It also wants to be a tale about taking a stand against corruption. It further wishes to examine how our life choices determine our fates. It’s an overly ambitious film that’s 30 or 40 minutes longer than it needs to be and that fails to satisfyingly find its focus. It requires a lot of patience and liberal use of the fast forward button if you choose to stay with it.
Ryan Gosling opens the movie as a travelling motorcycle stuntman who checks up on an old girlfriend (Eva Mendes) and learns he is a father. He then becomes obsessed with providing for his newly discovered son by any means necessary. The usually dynamic and compelling young actor is here saddled with an ugly laconic character in a belabored, slow, uninteresting and unnecessary bit of filmmaking that takes far too long to reach its destination.
The focus then shifts to Bradley Cooper as a straight arrow rookie police officer instantly in over his head with a group of very corrupt veteran cops led by Ray Liotta. It’s a frightening scenario that shows promise and looks like it might save the movie. Unfortunately, it is hastily resolved and replaced with a plodding look at Cooper’s relationship with his own son, his concern for the motorcyclist’s son, and the ultimate meeting of these two boys. When you finally get to the location of the title, you’re presented with an anticlimactic and unsatisfyingly open ending.
There are enough ideas here for three movies. Perhaps they all could have worked in one trimmed down and more specifically focused film. Instead, “The Place Beyond the Pines” proves that less definitely would have been more.
The DVD is available at your Roanoke Valley Public Libraries.