‘The Place Beyond the Pines’: Greco-Biblical Epic in Neo-Noir Clothing

Warning: This article contains spoilers and is intended mainly for those who have already seen the film.

“The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the sons” (Exodus 34:7). Were this the only subtext in Derek Cianfrance’s multigenerational saga of twisted fate and broken dreams, The Place Beyond the Pines might be taken simply as an updating of Elia Kazan 1953 adaptation of John Steinbeck’s modern-day reworking of the Cain and Abel tale, East of Eden. Instead, this densely packed film manages to stitch together the Tanakh and Greek myth and tether both to a modern-day crime drama set in an American burg beneath whose idyllic exterior, a la Hitchcock (and Freud), reside swine. Schenectady, New York, provides the serenely sinister backdrop—a name that instantly conjures Charlie Kaufman’s solipsistic brain-twister with the devilishly allusive title Synecdoche, New York (2008). The result is a neo-noir with more cinematic panache and multi-layered resonance than any since Roman Polanski/Robert Towne’s magisterial Chinatown (1974). Continue reading “‘The Place Beyond the Pines’: Greco-Biblical Epic in Neo-Noir Clothing” »