Reviews of The Place Beyond the Pines

place beyond the pines gosling still

Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle stunt rider who knocks over banks. Apparently it's less ridiculous than that sounds.

The movie that shot in Schenectady last summer -- The Place Beyond the Pines -- debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival Friday night. It stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, and a bunch of other actors you'll recognize. It also reportedly includes many locations you'll recognize around the area.

The film has been picked up by prominent art house film distributor Focus Features after what was apparently a bidding war. Director Derek Cianfrance says it will be released sometime in 2013. [IndieWire] [IndieWire]

Here's a quick a scan of the post-debut reviews...

Just a heads up: many of these reviews include spoilers.


Laremy Legel at

To say more of the plot would be a disservice, as the cleverness of "The Place Beyond the Pines" springs from the atmospheric tension that comes from not knowing how each scene will play out. Those familiar with director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine") will likely have some idea of what they're in for, though "The Place Beyond the Pines" has better pacing and far less muddled themes than his first feature film. There is true beauty in the despair that pervades "The Place Beyond the Pines," a film plotted out in triptych, a treatise on the moral compromises we all make to protect and provide for our loved ones. In Cianfrance's world, there are no heroes, only brutal shared truths, protagonists filled with coiled rage, set against menacingly dark hues of Schenectady, New York.

Chris Bumbray at JoBlo:

More than anything, it's a showpiece for the three leads, Gosling, Cooper and, in arguably the film's finest performance, Dane DeHaan (CHRONICLE). Each actor anchors a different part, giving this the feel of an epic trilogy confined to one film. Running a lengthy, but never oppressive 150 minutes, PINES is a big movie made intimate by Cianfrance's technique. Imagine something like GODFATHER if it were directed by John Cassavettes and you'll have an inkling of what this is.

Matt Patches at

Like Blue Valentine, and many of the '70s-era films that Pines feels spirtually connected to, Cianfrance's aesthetic choices on Place Beyond the Pines are gritty and raw. Luke blazes through the forests of Schenectady, New York, or the dilapidated suburbs that surround it, and every shot -- whether it's a too-close-for-comfort close up or a picturesque landscape -- is carefully selected to elicit the most unnerving feeling possible. It's a cold film, similar to the outsider perspective that makes the Godfather films so chilling, and Cianfrance takes his time to let Gosling effectively spiral out of control.

Matt Goldberg at Collider:

A tale built solely on twists and turns usually falls apart when it's revisited, but Cianfrance has done far more than simply provide surprising revelations in his narrative. He has told a tremendous story about unintended legacies, struggling to break free from the lives others have unintentionally laid out for us, and yet perhaps being locked into a destiny when we know of no other path. There are crossroads, but there are also blind alleys, winding passages, and these avenues may lead us into uncharted territory or where our fathers tread before. Tightly constructed but never constrained, The Place Beyond the Pines is a marvel of storytelling, and a powerful exploration of conscious crimes and unexpected punishments.

Kevin Jagernuth at IndieWire:

With "The Place Beyond The Pines" Derek Cianfrance has now placed himself in the canon of great, contemporary American filmmakers like James Gray, Paul Thomas Anderson and the Coen Brothers. This is a film that desires to say something about how we relate to each other, and how the often overlooked consequences of our actions can refract down avenues we could never expect. A brilliant, towering picture, "The Place Beyond The Pines" is a cinematic accomplishment of extraordinary grace and insight.

Not good

Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere:

Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond The Pines is basically an upstate New York crime story about fathers and sons. It's also about cigarettes and bank hold-ups and motorcycles and travelling carnivals and nobody having enough money and anger and bullheadedness and the general malaise that comes from living in the pure hell and suffocation of Schenectady and those Siberian environs...I've been up there and it's awful so don't tell me.
It's also about men and their lame cock-of-the-walk issues in Cianfranceville, or the Land of the Constant Macho Strut and the Eternally Burning Cigarette, and if you can swallow or suck this in, fine...but I couldn't.

He also thought Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne are "too hot to live in Schenectady."

Henry Barnes at the Guardian:

The Place Beyond the Pines is ambitious and epic, perhaps to a fault. It's a long, slow watch in the final act, a detour into the next generation that sees the sons of Luke and Avery pick away at their daddy issues together. Cianfrance signposts the ripple effects of crime with giant motorway billboards, then pootles along, following a storyline that drops off Mendes and Byrne before winding on to its obvious conclusion. The remarkable opening, featuring a tracking shot through the flashing lights of the fair right into the Cage of Death, seems a very long way away.

Brad Brevet at Rope of Silicon:

The exploration of tragic lives in tragic environments is one thing, but to wallow in it as Cianfrance seems to enjoy doing is tough to swallow and what exactly he's trying to accomplish here isn't entirely clear, and the generational thread he's pushing can only be tugged on for so long before the quilt it holds together is withered and frayed.

David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter:

Biggest problem in the screenplay by Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder is the central section focusing on Avery Cross. A rookie cop played by Bradley Cooper, he is presented as an honorable man and then conveniently puts his conscience on hold while his story arc follows what seems an inorganic direction. Far better is the gripping opening hour with Ryan Gosling as motorcycle stunt rider Luke, and the concluding section with his 17-year-old son (Dane DeHaan).

Peter DeBruge at Variety:

Two half-stories about fathers and sons on opposite sides of the law do not a full movie make in "The Place Beyond the Pines," the overlong and under-conceived reunion between "Blue Valentine" director Derek Cianfrance and lookalike star Ryan Gosling. Divided into three segments tacked one after the other, the film begins with a lean "Drive"-like portrayal of a motorcycle daredevil (Gosling) who takes to robbing banks after learning he has an infant son to support. Then the story takes a hard right turn, effectively starting over with another, less charismatic character. Once word gets out, audiences will evaporate.


Paul Grondahl at the Times Union:

Even more importantly, though, people in the Capital Region are eager to know how the old hometown comes off on the big screen. Is it a portrayal of local culture to be loved or loathed? The answer is as multilayered and ambiguous as the unorthodox and ambitious film itself. ...
Not since the film adaptation of William Kennedy's "Ironweed" dragged Albany through the gutter almost 25 years ago with a story of Depression-era bums has the Capital Region been featured in such an intense close-up on the big screen.

Gregory Ellwood at HitFix:

An original screenplay by Ciafrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, "Pines" is a three-act tragedy with Shakespearean overtones set in - of all places - Schenectady, New York.* ... Full disclosure, I grew up in Guilderland, N.Y. and Altamont, N.Y., a town and village that are suburbs of Albany and border Schenectady. Needless to say, I know this area like the back of my hand. Whether Cianfrance has depicted it accurately is very much up to debate. ...
In a quick introduction before the screening, Cianfrance revealed he'd worked on the "Pines" screenplay for a number of years before he'd even started "Valentine." That may be one reason the script feels like a worked over mash-up of too many familiar ideas and movie cliches. Cianfrance is clearly a very talented filmmaker, but he just overreaches with this one. Thankfully, his ensemble's strong work (notably Cooper, Mendhelson and DeHaan) help make "Pines" feel more like a step back than a sophomore misfire.

Eye candy: Here are a bunch of photos of Gosling, Cooper, and Mendes at the Toronto premiere.

still: Focus Features


The tourist dollars that flow in from this movie to the city will surely close the budget gap! Who wouldn't want to visit "the pure hell and suffocation of Schenectady and those Siberian environs..." or checkout the "menacingly dark hues" and "dilapidated suburbs", it sound so inviting. I think I saw a Bradley Cooper quote about kittens eating dead fish too. Yay Schenectady! At least we know where future post-apocalyptic films will be set and filmed.

I grew up in one of the dilapidated suburbs that surrounds the Electric City (Niskayuna). As a lifelong resident, I'm not sure where to find the "forests of Schenectady." Is that the woods at Central Park?

"He also thought Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne are "too hot to live in Schenectady.""

This is extremely true.

One thing that was so dumb about that comment about Eva Mendes and Rose Byrne was that when I lived in NYC there were plenty of unattractive people, but of course it isn't the homeless person's fault who lives under the subway tunnels that they can't afford $200 hair cuts and teeth whitening treatments. There are huge in socio-economic ranges in cities. That was such a stupid thing to write. I am sure there are plenty of unattractive people in LA too who would love to be able to spend the time and money it would take to improve their looks. Not to mention obviously "Upper New York State" is not just one uniform place, obviously it contains a huge range of rural and urban areas with again huge ranges in people of socio-economic statuses and ages and occupations. I am sure there is a 20 year old who lives near Schenectady and spends all her time on her looks and wardrobe and also a woman who is a single mom in LA who has to work 12 hour days at a low paying job to support her family who cannot afford expensive organic produce or endless amounts of cosmetics. Who cares? That statement means nothing.

I resent the "too hot for Schenectady" comments. Heck a Scotian came in second on America's Next Top Model. Sure we don't dress like people from LA but that's cause we have brains that register cold! Looks will fade and frostbite damage is forever.

I agree with Emily. It's as if the reviewer couldn't come up with anything more original or compelling to say. If the movie had been filmed in LA, NYC, or Toronto, nobody would write a word about the location. For Jeffrey Wells to denigrate Schenectady says more about HIM than about whether the community is "worthy"!

Maybe the "ugly upstater-gate" comment was seeking buzz, controversy, righteous indignation, and blog traffic? If that is the case it succeeded!

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