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“The Place Beyond the Pines” – Review (POSITIVE)

April 25, 2013

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 7.39.25 PMThere’s a rare occasion where a movie presents itself in the trailers as one movie and then successfully fools it’s audience by presenting it, in it’s entirety, as a completely different film. Few recent films that come to mind, “Drive” “Spring Breakers”, both films were taking on the basic movie plot of that typical genre film we’ve seen time and time again, and then you’re given a bold, brassy, not to mention, pulpy art house film. “The Place Beyond the Pines”, for me looked like another “The Departed”; it’s far from that structure/tone.

The movie’s main focus, without giving too much away, is it’s a a grand crime epic about father’s and son’s; the choices father’s make, and how it will subsequently affect their children. The movie opens with Luke (Ryan Gosling), he’s that typical loner, motorcyclist, who joins a circus, because his past crimes affect him from having an mundane job. Luke is a circus stunt rider, one of the recent stops the circus makes is the town of his old flame, Romina (Eva Mendes). Turns out, Romina gave birth to Luke’s first born child. Luke is caught in a crossroads, stay & be a father, or continue his current path.

Avery (Bradley Cooper) is a small time Sgt, who catches himself in a sticky situation on the job leaving him with the gift of being called a ‘hero’. The question is this: does he deserve that title, is he worthy of that title? Avery finds himself caught up in a whole heep of trouble, when some of his corrupted cop pals, try to sneak him into one of the diabolical schemes of manipulating the system for a simple pay day. The choices Avery & Luke make will affect their children (Emory Cohen & Dane DeHaan) in the most cosmic of ways.

“The Place Beyond the Pines”  is from writer/director Derek Cianfrance, the bold, visionary director behind “Blue Valentine”, a movie that could make somebody on happy peels 24/7 hate their life (it’s a powerful film, see it), takes a different tonal shift here, although he reunites with Gosling, he takes a broader approach with the cast he’s selected, and the grand scale he takes the movie. How this movie was conceived ..all I can really say is it’s presented in a epic storytelling method. Not “Avengers” epic, but epic in a sense that the timeline takes to another generation of storytelling, within the film.

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 7.39.48 PMThe stories are cleverly threaded together so carefully to a point where you find yourself asking, ‘This will return’, ‘This means something’, ‘I’ve got a feeling we haven’t seen the last of this’, ‘Oh shit, that’s coming back to haunt him’. Situations like that, and I love it when a movie does that to the viewer, pint in case that shows you the writer(s) are doing something right, by affecting the audience on a grander subconscious level.

The abilities all around are top notch here, Gosling & Cooper have earn them the title of the new ‘typical Oscar bait actors’, yet they’re not the typical Oscar bait actors, well Cooper if anything. Cooper selects roles I feel for a distinctive reason, they’re different and very organic, hell even his character Phil in the “Hangover” films has a bit of depth. His best performance remains to be Pat, “Silver Linings Playbook”, but Avery is certainly on par. His character is caught in a tail spin of complexities, it’s astounding how he can get out of it by the end. Bradley plays it perfectly to a nub, make interesting choices for the character, especially at the end (the woods scene).

Powerful stuff here, it’s themes are potent, and it’s characters are fascinating to examine, “The Place Beyond the Pines” is one of the most ambitious crime drama’s 2013 has to offer, and has earned a slot on of my favorite films of the year (so far).

GRADE: A-

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