Yes, The Place Beyond the Pines is, sneakily, sort of three films all at once. This accounts for its lengthy run time, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, is what's great about the film even as it's what's absolutely terrible about it. Cianfrance is taking very real structural risks throughout, here, and though the film is looped, bridged, and tied together into one very neat, clean narrative package, it's tough not to acknowledge that the second half of the film drags in ways that the Luke sequences do not. We move from a quick burning crime story, a world with guns, motorbikes, chase sequences, and creeping darkness, to the stories that follow the inevitable happily never after. Cianfrance's problem, of course, is that crime pays too well when pitted against real human drama. As savory as the storytelling is in the later sequences (though sometimes melodramatic), it can't compare to the rush of those earlier, Suicide-scored rides. Of course, a too good beginning is far from the worst problem a film can have, and all things considered, The Place Beyond the Pines has the makings of a very strong, lasting piece of American cinema. Cianfrance strikes a curious balance between the film's sprawling formal ambitions and its very personal, very intimate nature. We get to know the characters not merely through dialogue and action, but via landscapes, lingering shots, and the film's hauntingly atmospheric score. We switch vantages, we change stories, we move across decades, but we always, always, come back to the same split seconds.