Friday, April 12, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines: Movie Review

   


A story of trashy criminals and dirty cops evolving into one about fathers and sons and life.
What he have here is a story about fathers and their sons. In fact, three separate stories - each one leads into the next. A lesser movie would have just told one story, but "The Place Beyond the Pines" is larger in scope and needs all three parts to tell the complete story. A life is not just about your life but those you affect and those you leave behind for years to come. 2012

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

Screenplay by: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Derek Marder

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper

Ryan Gosling stars as Luke and Eva Mendes stars as Romina in
Derek Cianfrance's sweeping emotional drama, The Place Beyond the Pines.
The first father is Luke (Ryan Gosling) who didn't know he had a son until a girl whose name he happens to remember shows up with a one year-old son. Prior to that moment he was a daredevil with no ambitions, no money, and no care for his life. Now he's a father. A father with no money nor job. Wearing a dirty, inside-out, torn t-shirt and tattoos covering his arms, neck and face, he is the epitome of trash. But you know, the quiet, reserved, soulful, good-looking trash. And now that he's a father, he's going to care for his son however he can. He hooks up with his partner in crime, literally - Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). Together they are like a Hall & Oates version of Bonnie and Clyde.

Bradley Cooper in The Place Beyond the Pines, an Alliance Films release.
In Schenectady, New York - the place beyond the pines - the only thing dirtier than the trashy criminals are the cops themselves. And then the second father is introduced. The character of Avery (Bradley Cooper) is carefully crafted into what should be the greatest human being on planet Earth. And he's a cop. And he's a father. And he's a son to a father who might have been but probably wasn't the greatest human being on planet Earth.

The film went for editing and filming styles to echo the characters' situations and actions. You can guess what that would look like when Gosling is racing through the forest on his motorcycle. But as we approach the more expansive ending, there are some beautiful shots of the trees lining Schenectady's countryside roads. That works particularly well with Cooper giving a remarkable performance of Avery constantly coming to grips with his life.


The final act tells a story very different from, but completely connected to, the two that came before it. It could have been tightened up a bit, but "The Place Beyond the Pines" isn't telling a quick story. It's telling the story of multiple lives of death, family, love, honour and obedience. Employing overall themes of revenge, ambition, and what it means to be a father, and a son. I say it succeeds in its larger scope, even if it doesn't just tell a story the way one would want it to.
Best of 2013




Similar Titles:


Blue Valentine (2010) - "Blue Valentine" is tragically real, beautiful and blue.


On the Road (2012) - Disappointing trip to the Beat Generation with drugs, sex and emptiness.