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“The Place Beyond The Pines” has no trouble pinning down its destination, but struggles mightily with the journey. This brand of character study should grab each member of the audience by the collar, dragging them into its fragmented world of crime, corruption, and moral ambiguity. But instead, “Pines” is content in tapping us on the shoulder and politely going about its business, weaving a decidedly unconventional tale of fathers and sons and the impact they have each other’s lives.

In aiming so high, “The Place Beyond The Pines” lands as an admirable but definite disappointment, especially considering the caliber of cast and crew involved. Its high points make it worth a watch, but its structure – while memorable – is too unwieldy and used too cavalierly to drive home its weighty themes. I suspect the film will be mostly forgotten come awards season, but it shouldn’t be discarded for a lack of trying. It could have been monumental, but mere respectability isn’t the worst ground to tread. Better to tread middle ground than water.

Rating: ★★★ out of ★★★★★ (OK)

Full review: The Place Beyond The Pines

-J. Olson