Place Beyond The Pines, The (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus robs a bank on a motorbike and then follows a cop around for this DVD
Carnival motorcycle racer, Luke (Ryan Gosling), tries to connect with a former lover, Romina (Eva Mendes) when he finds out she secretly gave birth to his son after their relationship ended. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies. The stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) and when their paths cross the events resonate for years to come.
Written and directed by Derek Cianfrance who also brought us the fantastically bleak Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond The Pines isn’t a film that sticks to its small scale beginnings. Unfortunately I don’t really want to say a lot about the film because it’s scale, that actually covers fifteen years works most effectively when you go in unaware of the events that change the game about midway through the two and a half hour run time.
Cianfrance allows his actors to deliver natural performances throughout. Gosling is as great as ever and brings a lot more vulnerability to his motorcycling bank robber than many an actor would, proving once again that he’s the best leading man of his age bracket. Bradley Cooper also manages to deliver the goods though he doesn't get lost in his performance quite as well as others around him. Eva Mendes has never felt this real on film and despite a relatively small amount of screentime Ray Liota hasn't been this close to what he’s so good at in Goodfellas for quite some time. The supporting cast across the board are solid and really make Pines an ensemble of greatness.
Okay, without risking giving anything away, the story, which turns out is really three stories doesn't feel like it’s going to pull off its own scale about midway through the second story. A disconnect begins to make the first story feel a long way away but Cianfrance pulls it all back to pay off in the third story and the far reaching themes the film deals with are really felt as the film comes to close. Cianfrance has a story to tell here and he isn't afraid to change gears when it's needed but when he does he doesn't lose the focus on his characters no matter where the story goes. The Place Beyond The Pines is certainly more conventional than Blue Valentine but it’s far from bowing to the mainstream. This is a director who already feels confident in the moves he makes and with actors coming off this well in his films I would imagine most of Hollywood is flocking towards him for his future projects.
The image here is initially warm and comes with a great use of colour. Edges are distinctly DVD soft and it can make a fair few of the black levels look a little grubby and often a little blue around the edges rather than a solid black. That said, Cianfrance's visual style carries over from Blue Valentine and he retains his gritty visuals, that still seem to manage fitting in vivid colours and a boosted HD photographic charm. Of course that all that changes in the second half of the film. Bright colours get replaced with plenty of cool blues. The mood changes distinctly and the look of the film follows suit as everything gets a lot colder.
Some of the frantic high speed motorbike footage seems much sharper with passing cars and foliage appearing much sharper than previous elements but these are small high intensity moments don’t really share the same appearance as the rest of the film. There’s also a long sequence of nausea filled moments. The main bike chase, the Gosling / Cooper hand held cam chase down and the following flickering fluorescent lights in the hospital make for a good twenty minutes of headachy sea sickness. This stuff doesn't usually effect me too much but the kinetic wobbles of these sequences certainly are overwhelming but with the blood pumping events of the actual film during these sequences showing Cianfrance can do real world action with real precision, a little bit of sea sickness is forgivable.
I really like the look of the film but the DVD does not really seem up to the task of presenting it. The soft edges really fall apart in wider shots and while close ups are much better the lack of levels in the blacks can make for a fairly dark looking image with little to no sharp edged detail.
The opening motorcycle cage trio has engines dancing around speakers and for a while fairground music lives in the rears filling out the track nicely. The creeping score continues to underpin the film's events and generates the unsettled mood the story likes to play in.
Ambience is alive throughout the film with clicking bugs, passing traffic and general street sounds keeping the film sounding natural and distinctly real world. It's a relatively quiet film due to prolonged silences or spaces between dialogue and despite the pretty straight forward plot Cianfrance still manages to make this a pretty strong mood piece and its largely thanks to his use of score which the 5.1 Dolby Digital track manages well.
The commentary with co writer/ director Derek Cianfrance is quite odd as the director sounds a whole lot like Gosling's character in the film. He paints a good picture of his process and throws in a lot of behind the scenes making of the film. His attention to reality in his films and letting performances find their way is all great stuff and I have a real sense this guy is going to make a pretty important movie down the line.
There’s a batch of deleted and extended scenes (09:28) and ‘Going to The Place Beyond The Pines’ (04:22) is a simple EPK overview to the film. Wrapping up the fairly thin features is the film’s trailer.
The Place Beyond The Pines is a solid focused drama set across a long period of time. I’m not sure I entirely loved the entire thing but this is still a pretty impressive film and more of a promise that Cinafrance’s future in filmmaking is going to be one to watch. The disc is a mixture of great and underwhelming in the visuals department, the audio remains consistently good but outside of the commentary the extras are pretty thin.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 12th August 2013
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Stereo 2.0 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: Commentary, Featurette, Deleted / Extended Scenes, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes
Length: 124 minutes
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