The Place Beyond the Pines

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Edited By: Jim Helton, Ron Patane
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ray Liotta

The Place Beyond the Pines is a movie directed by Derek Cianfrance of Blue Valentine fame. The movie is like three in one, in that each part can be a complete story within itself but when watched together flow into each other seamlessly. Or semi-seamlessly.

The movie about the relationships between fathers and sons and how the choices made by one can effect the other can be feel a bit long a times. Though that may just be the sense of finality when moving from one section to the next.

In the opening scene we meet Luke (Ryan Gosling) getting ready to perform in the circus doing stunt work on his motorcycle. Luke is tatted up, grimy, quiet but as Gosling has shown before in Drive, he can still keep your eyes on him even without saying much.

He is in Schenectady, New York only one more night when he meets up with Romina (Eva Mendes) his one-night stand from last year. He finds out that she gave birth to their son who is now one year old.

Despite his appearances and Romina's preconceived notions, Luke quits the circus, stays in town working as a mechanic. He intends to provide for his son and win back Romina even though she has a new life, a new boyfriend and little faith in Luke.

Unable to make what Luke thinks is enough to shower his son with gifts he starts robbing banks with his new friend, Robin (Ben Mendelsohn).

The second chapter stars Bradley Cooper as newbie cop, Avery Cross. When he becomes privy to the shady dealings of police within the system he becomes unsure of what he should do with his life. Going to his father for help he makes a plan to become a politician.

The final third of the movie is about Avery's son, AJ. Fifteen years has passed and his son faces challenges of his own with his father and kids at his new school.

The movie is long but is never boring. You become invested in all the characters who are multi-dimensional and not completely good or bad. They are all just trying to understand themselves and get through their lives.

The tone of the movie is subdued and melancholy but it only adds to the feel of the movie itself. Is doing something bad for a good reason a good thing or a bad one? The cinematography is beautiful but speckled with gritty buildings and ugly clothes to add to that feel of desperation for Luke and corrupt justice for Avery.

Luke's chapter was my favorite as I think that he had the most to win or to lose. His life, depending on his choices can go either way.

The third chapter was my least favorite as the character of AJ (Emory Cohen) tries too hard to be gangster.
I get that he's 16 and he's trying to be unique but his horrible gangster lingo and distracting chest hair were just too much. Though Dane DeHaan was a great actor I had never seen before.

I was more interested in his story than that of AJ.

The end of the movie comes full circle suggesting that sometimes the things we experience and the way we act come from the generations before us, and the actions we make today have unknowing, reverberating consequences.

Some may not like the fact that the movie switches from one person to the next at what may seem, critical points. But the drama does not come from explosions or gunfire, the drama here comes from the actors and like life, sometimes one part ends when it's getting good but that doesn't mean the story is over. That I think, is the point of The Place Beyond the Pines.

I give it 4 out of 5 popcorn.

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