Where does director  Derek Cianfrance hide? It may be my fault for not remembering having seen any his movies before or even knowing his name. It is certainly the fault of the distributors of ‘The Place Beyond the Pines‘ which was made in 2013 for not making out of this film a blockbuster or at least a festivals circuit success. Produced in 2012 it has Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes in the cast, all of them acting superbly, it’s a beautifully written story about crime and corruption, guilt and fatherhood,  which is at the same time human and universal as well as rooted to the detail in the realities of a small town in the state of New York where much of the filming was done on location. So did this film only enjoy a limited launching, and why did he make only a small profit over the rather modest sum of money it cost? These questions may be asked in an investigation of the mysteries of the American movies distribution system.

 

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1817273/

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1817273/

 

It is not easy to tell what this film is about without committing the ‘spoiler sin’, but I will try to avoid the trap. It starts as the story of a life and of a love lost in mistakes, with little chances to end well. It continues as the story of a cop trying to do the right things and fighting the corrupt system he works in. It ends as a story of paternal responsibility and how the next generation is due to follow the steps of fathers and whether breaking the circle of fate and social conditioning is possible. So there are three stories here, three stories with different focus and pace, partly sharing the same characters and with a continuity determined by the leading ideas. As I try to tell all these, I realize how many important details remain out, how well they are interleaved and what value they add, how well the whole narrative structure stands. It’s a strong and moving story (or better said collection of stories) told in an original manner.

 

(video source StudiocanalUK)

 

I need to add a few special mentions about acting. For Ryan Gosling this may be the first big ‘bad guy’ role of his career but he cannot really be a ‘bad guy’ to the end, as he adds complexity and deepness to his character. Same can be said about the character  played by Bradley Cooper but working on the opposite direction, as we see the hero cop never at peace with the decisions he needs to take even when it seems to be ‘the right thing’ (fighting crime and police corruption). Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta provide more substance to their supporting roles which could have easily fallen in standard melodrama. We come to know the place where the action happens and the way it changes in time, and in part of the secret ’The Place Beyond the Pines‘ looks to good and authentic is the careful description and familiarity of the authors for the details.

How can this wonderful film be taken out of the shade of forget it undeservedly lies? The best would be if the very talented film director who is Derek Cianfrance will make some more successful movies. I hope that this will happen, and then ‘The Place Beyond the Pines‘ will have its second chance.