Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines is one of the most engrossing movies I’ve seen this year. It follows the lives of Luke Glanton, a carnival motorcyclist turned bank robber, and Avery Cross, a police officer who eventually is running for public office. This isn’t your typical cop takes down crook story though. It is a deep narrative that later involves Glanton and Cross’ sons, Jason and AJ respectively, who become friends and find their way into some trouble together (and yet still it isn’t your typical fathers getting their sons out of trouble story).
I don’t want to get too much into the plot. The smallest detail would spoil the movie in its entirety. But trust me, this is one you don’t want to miss. Beyond the plot, this movie showcases a wonderful breakdown of the idea of having a main character. The action moves from one character to the next flawlessly, without defined boundaries, so that it feels the story itself, the saga of these four intertwined men, is the main character. Like a painting where there is no central figure, only a feeling and sense of atmosphere. Like Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Cianfrance truly challenges the traditional idea that character is more important than plot or story and places these things on equal ground. Only his is more succinct and successful in narrative composition.