Niagara Gazette — Every now and then a film comes along that makes you glad you love movies. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be alive. “The Place Beyond The Pines” is that kind of film. It’s vibrant and energetic; a little ragged around the edges, but so utterly filled with the harsh cold breath of danger that the riskier it becomes, the more alluring it is.
The audience finds itself complicit in the misdeeds of its characters. It shares in the anger of a father driven to physical violence by the new man in his child’s life. It invites the audience to hope banks will be robbed successfully. Its emotions are so knife-edged, that because of the film’s take on moral choices, on what’s right or wrong, when a character points a gun at a politician begging for his life in a damp patch of woods on the outskirts of town, you’ll be forgiven for thinking: “shoot him.”
“The Place Beyond The Pines,” directed by Derek Cianfrance, is a gritty movie that brings to mind the best screen melodramas of the 1940s and 1950s. Hollywood made these films in its sleep. When they were good, they were very, very good. One director of that era who really knew how to entice the audience, and make them complicit in a crime, was Alfred Hitchcock.
Cianfrance’s film is set in rough and tumble Schenectady, whose name in the Mohawk language is loosely translated as “the place beyond the pines.” On a number of occasions, characters head into the woods where they will make important decisions. Cianfrance and his co-screenwriters, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, have created believable ethical dilemmas that highlight the complex philosophical traps that ensnare essentially decent people. Regarding their movie, these are traps from which the characters are ill-quipped to escape.