DEREK Cianfrance's last film, Blue Valentine, was a raw and intimate story of a couple's relationship and the little moments that only really the couple themselves are aware of it.
At times it felt awkward and intrusive to watch, like you were peering through a key hole at something perhaps you shouldn't be seeing.
But his follow up, the crime melodrama, The Place Beyond The Pines, is far more ambitious in story scope.
While Blue Valentine focused on the microscopic details, The Place Beyond The Pines spreads itself wide with its sprawling tale of two men whose lives are intertwined by a single moment of panic.
It is a tale of how a single instant has the devastating potential to change and impact a life forever.
Ryan Gosling is bleached blonde and heavily tattooed sideshow motorcyclist Luke who is bleak and almost devoid of any form of identity.
It echoes his role in Drive as he mostly speaks in mono symbols.
Upon discovering a woman from his past (Eva Mendes) has borne his child he turns to bank robbery as a means to support them and prove his worth.
Naturally things go awry and his path collides with that of the straight shooting and ambitious rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper).
It's a slow paced journey as the characters' lives play out like tea steeping from a t-bag.
There's no rushing this film which is both absorbing and yet at times a little slow and oddly paced when there are interspered jaunts of action.
It's beautifully shot and Cianfrance uses the camera like a paintbrush on an easel.
The acting is superb. Bradley is a conflicted entanglement of guilt, resentment and ambitious self-serving drive and Gosling is icy and vacant but with that dreamy half smile he has perfected.
The problem with the film is feels at times a little like a Jodie Picoult novel in that it aims to tackle such big, broad multifaceted issues that at times it's at the detriment of the character development.
In doing so it spreads itself a little thin in patches, leaving strands unfinished and half-cooked but in other parts it's beautiful and bold story telling full of heart-breaking devastation.
The Place Beyond The Pines
- Stars: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ben Mendelsohn
- Director: Derek Cianfrance
- Rated: MA 15+
- Verdict: Three stars
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