The Place Beyond The Pines (15)

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In case you need to be reminded that the surface of life is cratered with the implosion of past mistakes, go no further than the Heart of Hawick.

Consequences are everything, consequences of actions. Even the young succumb. After all, they are the children of their parents.

Who wants to be told that in the suckered heart of power lies corruption and greed, or that privilege and politics rot from the roots? Is there a place? Beyond the pines. Where you find salvation. On a motorbike!

This film is clever, like mercury. When you think you have it, when you know where you are going, when the accomplice warns the thief, “If you ride like lightning, you’ll crash like thunder”, expectation slides through your fingers and you find yourself in a different trajectory entirely.

There are three distinct chapters: the bank robber’s tale, the policeman’s journey, the teenagers’ confrontation. They are connected and yet separate, as if one is the result of the other.

In film, as in fiction, it is hard to change protagonists in mid-story. The viewer/reader has committed, only to be forced to address a different set of characters, not once but twice. Writer/director Derek Cianfrance pulls it off supremely well, avoiding soft options, or sentimentality. His style is very much his own, which gives this a refreshing individuality.

The performances are, without exception, captivating. Ryan Gosling, left, has become the new Dean after Blue Valentine, Drive and The Ides Of March. His low-key intensity smoulders. Bradley Cooper, stuck in the middle of The Hangover series, proved in Silver Linings Playbook that he could act the socks off the competition. He does so again here as the ambitious cop who takes full advantage of a bad decision.

They say that silence smothers the rage within. Until it breaks loose.

That’s what this film is about.