Friday, April 12, 2013

Movie Review: The Place Beyond The Pines

Prepare yourself, this film is amazing on multiple levels. First, it's amazing that someone even tried to tackle a project like this. Director Derek Cianfrance's follow up to 2010's Blue Valentine continues exploring the dynamics of dysfunctional families. While his last film was about the woeful dissolution of a marriage, The Place Beyond The Pines highlights the relationship (or lack thereof) between fathers and sons, spanning across three generations.

Like I said before, this film is epic in every sense of the word. A triptych tale, The Place Beyond The Pines is basically three separate movies that momentarily converge at one crucial point. Again, it's amazing that someone could even get a movie like this made in this day and age. Ryan Gosling plays a motorcycle riding drifter named Luke who is blindsided when a fling from his past results in fatherhood. He turns to a life of crime in order to provide for his son, and that's when he crosses paths with Avery, a rookie cop with boy scout sensibilities and a young son of his own, played by Bradley Cooper in one of his best performances to date. That's all I can divulge without going into spoiler territory. Let's just say, it's epic. You get action, thrills, nerve racking suspense, echoes of romance, heartbreak, violence, tragedy, all these elements hit you at different times as you wonder just what the hell is happening.

The cast, led by Gosling and Cooper, deliver outstanding performances. Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan and a uber sleazy Ray Liotta are especially noteworthy. It's amazing that someone as beautiful as Mendes (or Gosling...or Cooper) can appear so believably haggard and run down over the course of a movie like this. Gorgeous actors, coupled with astonishingly beautiful shots of Upstate New York's wilderness, saturated with tremendous amounts of grief and melancholy to the point where they're no longer pretty...just sad. My boy Mike Patton's score for the film only accentuates the emotional beatdown that transpires onscreen. Good (in a morose kind of way) stuff there.

As awesome as this film's trailer is, don't fall into it's trap. It's more akin to The Godfather than Heat if you catch my drift. Is The Place Beyond The Pines perfect? Definitely not. Is it a challenging and ambitious film that deserves both praise and discussion? Totally. Props to Derek Cianfrance for even trying this one, but congratulations for it coming together so well.


  1. It does sound like the kind of thing that's getting rarer and rarer these days. I'm not sure if more things like this need to be made though as it would kind of diminish the specialty of them. Let the people have their popcorn movies while the rest of us experience true art every once in a while.

  2. I'll have to catch this, even though Blue Valentine was a movie I rather disliked, even while admiring the performances.

    While we're at it, I'll recommend you see 42 soon. Feel-good movie that does it's thing without being sappy maudlin.

  3. This looks amazing from the trailer mate and your description really helps push that amazement along, I simply have to check it out.

  4. Okay, I'll watch it. I'm not even gonna put up a fight, it's not worth it.

  5. Heard a lot of great things about this movie. Plus Bradley Cooper? Will definitely watch!