After the claustrophobic intensity of Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance’s latest film, featuring the two Hollywood ‘hommes du jour’ Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, is a more sprawling but no less emotional follow-up. Seemingly never content to tell just one story, Cianfrance has arranged The Place Beyond the Pines into a series of separate yet connected sections. Whereas Blue Valentine told the story of the very beginning and the very end of one couple’s relationship, The Place Beyond the Pines follows two men and their sons, and the way in which all four are bound together by one single event.
The exploration of cause and effect makes for an interesting basis to the film, which concerns the far-reaching consequences events can have years after they initially happen, even through generations. Unusually for a crime drama, The Place Beyond the Pines tells the story of both the criminal and the cop, empathising with both their situations and noting the duality between them. It examines the idea of public perceptions vs. private realities, finding the truth that lies somewhere in between.