Narrative of life: A review of ‘The Place Beyond the Pines
Despite all differences between this movie and the director’s previous films, it’s still a movie by Derek Cianfrance, who seems to have an invisible signature that puts his mark on every single movie he makes. The signature is nothing but a desert between relationships. His characters are all alone, maybe not literally, but deep down inside their soul and in their definition of love and life.
The film is about relationships, human connection, and a child who is involved in the middle of a relationship conflict. However, unlike “Blue Valentine,” which had hidden violence, here the audience is faced with justified violence that Cianfrance completely prepares his audience for from the beginning of the movie. The tattoos on Ryan Gosling’s arm, his job as an entertainer on a motorcycle, and the way he smokes at the beginning of the film, which remind viewers of the western Clint Eastwood movies, all tell us that we will see a movie that shows violence.
In “Blue Valentine,” the violence has been hidden under the acts of characters and has become a cold violence that still hurts but is not obvious. For example, the sex scene between Bobby and Cindy, which provides a disillusioned violence, leads to silence, a silence (suppressed violence) that covers the whole sky of the narrative with a giant dark cloud.
The scene at home between the mother, the father and Cindy confronts the same picture but in a different way. The father starts to complain about food and there is the silence that Cianfrance wants us to pay attention to when the camera moves toward Cindy. The violence finally opens like an old wound and Dean breaks and crashes everything, and after that again silence the silence that, as the audience, we cannot be sure of when it will start to be a storm again. In that scene, Dean seems to be vomiting the explosion of his anger. He is throwing up all the silence and anger that covered the whole atmosphere of the film. He yells instead of all the characters.
This role, in “The Place Beyond the Pines,” was assigned to the young Jason. When he points the gun, which was his fathers’, he does not yell or scream. He is looking at Avery with an anger that comes from all the characters of the movie, comes from all their loneliness and pain.
Guns are everywhere in “The Place Beyond the Pines.” They are playing an important role in the narrative of the film. Weapons in this movie are not just a symbol of violence, even though much of the violence in the film arises from them, but they also have characters. Each gun changes the personality of each character to turn him into an aggressive person, something that without a doubt can be called a living weapon. The guns bring regret, and lack of control for whoever the person became and an unknown future for each of them.
This is the reason that, unlike “Blue Valentine,” here we are not dealing with flashbacks. Characters are moving forward without looking back. Cianfrance, in an interview with Alex Belington, says that the movie is like a gun. When you fire the gun, there is no looking back on it and there is no chance to pause. The bullet goes forward as fast as it can.
The characters’ choice of life affects others’ lives, but not in a good way. Having many options, they have picked an aggressive one because they had to, even if we would say, as the audience that there could have been a cleverer choice. In those circumstances, there was barely another choice as the story has been set up.
“The Place Beyond the Pines” begins with violence, continues with violence but ends with silence. Cianfrance knows how to play with these two and take the audience wherever he wants. Like the previous movie, “Blue Valentine,” in the final scene, the character, like a lonely cowboy, leaves everything behind and turns his back to the camera and goes to an unknown future.