The Place Beyond The Pines Reviews
The result is another fine cinematic gem. What we get here is a sprawling, gritty epic drama about fathers, sons, actions, and consequences, and the impact a legacy can have.
The film is divided into three interconnected chapters. Part 1 following a carnival motorcycle daredevil who, upon hearing from an ex that he has a son, decides to turn his life around and acquire a decent amount of money to provide a decent livelihood. He goes about this by using his skill set to perform a series of daring robberies.
These robberies lead into Act II where the action is focused on a decorated but troubled cop who tries to do the right thing, which proves hard due to mounting pressure from his less than ethical colleagues.
The film's final third takes place about 15 years after the events of the first two-thirds, and follows two teenage boys whose growing friendship and individual lives are tested when they learn about their pasts and their fathers.
This is a really ambitious, powerful, and gripping drama. It's also really long, somewhat slow, and has a final act that, while decent, isn't nearly as good or interesting as the rest of it. It ends on a decent note though, so that makes up for it, but still.
On the technical side, this one is clearly an artsy/indie type of deal, but that's fine by me. The cinematography is gorgeous, there's some great lighting, mood, and atmosphere, and you know a film is trying for greatness when it opens up with a killer long take tracking shot. The music by famed musician Mike Patton perfectly fits the vibe of the material, and really highlights the fact that, while the film does have a solid plot and characters, it's primarily about the aforementioned mood, tone, and atmosphere.
As the daredevil, Ryan Gosling is awesome. It's another killer gritty notch in his belt, and if he decides to do more of this type of stuff than mainstream romance fare, that'd be just fine by me. Eva Mendes turns in a stellar performance as Gosling's lady, and it's good seeing her show the world that she does indeed have acting chops. It's just unfortunate that she doesn't display them often enough. Bradley Cooper is a joy to watch as the decent but haunted cop, and it's good to see him expand his horizons acting wise. Rose Byrne is unfortunately underused as Cooper's wife, but even then she lends some credibility to the role. Ray Liotta is fine, though nothing special as one of Cooper's superiors, and, as one of the two boys facing a troubled legacy, Dane DeHaan is pretty stinkin' good.
So yeah, for the most part, I really liked this. It has a few issues here and there (namely pacing and the potency of the final act), but in the end, this is a really good film, but not quite the masterpiece it gets hailed as.
Nate's Grade: B-
Great FIlm! 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. The opening tracking shot was absolutely brilliant and did a great job establishing Ryan Gosling's character without any dialogue. The soundtrack, by Mike Patton, was impeccable and did a great job capturing the tone of the film. The story of the film is really well told and does a great job dealing with multiple genres. This film will appeal to anyone who wants to watch captivating performances, intense drama, and a great story! I highly recommend it!
A mysterious and mythical motorcycle racer, Luke, (Ryan Gosling) drives out of a traveling carnival globe of death and whizzes through the backstreets of Schenectady, New York, desperately trying to connect with a former lover, Romina, (Eva Mendes) who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider's son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, Luke quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The stakes rise as Luke is put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer, Avery Cross, (Bradley Cooper) looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption. The sweeping drama unfolds over fifteen years as the sins of the past haunt the present days lives of two high school boys wrestling with the legacy they've inherited. The only refuge is found in the place beyond the pines.
Without getting into the meat of the plot for spoiler's sake, "The Place Beyond the Pines" cuts right down to three different acts. Undoubtedly, each act is especially effective in delivering riveting drama complete with its own themes, messages, and downright brutal questions it asks audiences. But clocking in at 2 hours and 21 minutes, "The Place Beyond the Pines" has a hard time keeping audiences emotionally involved with all of its characters as the story transitions from one act to the other. So then by the end of the movie, there's so many messages, themes, and characters that "The Place Beyond the Pines" embodies that you can't help but feel distant from the movie.
If "The Place Beyond the Pines" were split into a trilogy or a TV miniseries, it would work, but it unfortunately falls under its own roof for its ambitious expectations.
Motorcycle stunt rider Luke (Ryan Gosling), meets one of his old flames Romina (Eva Mendes). It turns out that Romina has a son and Luke is the father. Luke then decides that he wants to provide for him but it leads him into robbing banks where he crosses the path of a rookie but ambitious policeman (Bradley Cooper). Their altercation ends up affecting more people than they ever expected.
A triptych movie - divided into three parts - where Cianfrance adopts a deliberate pace and allows his characters the space to grow and develop. First off, this is the most impressive element to the film; the characters are all three-dimensional with deeply emotional drives and motivations as Gosling, Cooper, Dane DeHaan and relative newcomer Emory Cohen, all get ample time to find their feet and get into their roles in each of the chapters. Despite the maleness on show, a solid Eva Mendes flits in between them with an impressive turn in what is a very underwritten role. It's through the committed performances that we are easily able to identify with each the characters and become embroiled in their tangled relationships, that spans a generation. Cianfrance's scope is highly ambitious and for the most part, very successful. In the first third he focuses on Gosling's, Luke and his life of crime while striving to support his family and delivers some very intense heist scenes, one after another (all the more impressive as they were apparently done in one take). Much like his performance in "Drive", Gosling combines good and bad so well. He's able to exude an innocence but also an underlying darkness that few actors that achieve. It's this very combination of qualities that has Gosling at the forefront of contemporary performers. There is an absolute smouldering intensity to him. Then, just as we're getting to know Luke, the film takes a shift towards Cooper's tortured police officer, Avery Cross, in the mid-section. The blending and shift in tone is seamless and impressively delivered but as much as I was a big admirer of Cooper's recent, Oscar nominated performance, in "Silver Linings Playbook", he doesn't quite have the gravitas to make this role work for him in the same way. He does well and can't be faulted too much, but he's too blue-eyed to cut it as a tortured soul here. The intensity that Gosling brings to his role is the very thing that Cooper fails to capture. This may be slightly unfair on Cooper as he's by no means bad, but it only serves to show how strong Gosling is. His performance actually permeates the remainder of the film once he gone but it does still stumble without his presence.
Cianfrance then goes on to finish the saga by audaciaclly jumping 15 years ahead. At this point, the director fully states his ambition and although admirable, he also stretches credulity somewhat. That being said, the film is so well delivered that it's acceptable and just about gets away with it. Unfortunately, the father/son relationship that runs deep within becomes a little muddled and relies far too heavily on a coincidental encounter. With Cianfrance stretching his canvas so far it almost tears apart, held only with the most tenuous of threads. His ambition is almost too vast in relation to his material or more appropriately his running time. I could easily have watched another half hour for the latter characters to be fully rounded and any shaky plot developments ironed out.
However, the more I'm writing this, the more I'm realising that I'm being quite critical. It's not my intention to put this film down, I'm merely pointing out the things that stop this film from being a five star experience. It's very nearly there and I enjoyed it immensely.
Vast, immersive and marvellouslly assembled. Cianfrance really seems to know his stuff when piecing his stories together. "Blue Valentine" was proof of that already but he goes another step further here and the results are no less impressive. It's early doors, but so far, this is the best of 2013.