Wednesday, April 17, 2013

REVIEW: The Place Beyond The Pines

The Place Beyond The Pines

Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper


March 29, 2013 (NY/LA)
April 12, 2013 (WIDE)

Derek Cianfrance

Focus Features,
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment

2 hours 21 minutes



Of all of the movies to have come out in 2013 so far, none have made me feel the way 'The Place Beyond The Pines' did.  Here is a movie that's been getting a lot of buzz due to its all star cast, which consists of names such as Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, as well as a glowing reception out of its world premiere at TIFF last year.  I kind of made it a life mission of sorts to skip out on all of the trailers and any knowledge of the plot available.  All that was left to be seen were photos and posters.  Going into the film, I didn't expect nothing more than a good movie.  Boy, what I got instead wasn't just good, but it was stunning.  At times it's disturbing, and at other times it can be shocking and brutal.  Overall though, the movie is fantastic.  It's truly an original and deep movie that is captivating and intriguing throughout.

There isn't one single plot to the film, rather three acts that make up the storyline of it.  The first act of the movie is about Luke Glanton. He's a motorcycle stunt driver who has returned to the town of Schenectady, New York, where he reunites with a woman whom he had a fling with the year prior. As it turns out, he now has a 1 year old son named Jason that's he's never been told about. As a result, Luke wants to take care of and support his son and one time lover, whom has a new man in his life. Unfortunately not a lot of jobs are out there, so he goes to the one thing that he thinks could bring in a lot of money: robbing banks. This leads into Act two, which involves Avery Cross. Avery Cross is a cop who wants to get promoted to higher ranks due to his knowledge and test scores. Unfortunately the department is ruled by a corrupt detective who does private jobs to blackmail others. Avery too has a young baby at home, who goes by the name of AJ. The final act of this film revolves around Jason and AJ meeting 15 years later, and the past and corruption of their fathers coming to haunt them in the present.

It's hard to decide who gave the best performance in the film, because Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper were both fantastic.  Gosling combined his quiet yet dangerous character in 'Drive' with a loving father with lots of tattoos on his body.  He steals the first third of the film and captivates every single scene he's in.  Cooper might not have been as good as he was in 'Silver Linings Playbook,' but his presence in the film builds up a lot of tension and makes you feel for the character while despising him to an extent at the same time.  For these two actors, this film will without a doubt be on their resume for the rest of their careers.  As for the rest of the cast, everyone gave great performances as well.

Eva Mendes didn't do a whole lot in the film, but for what it's worth, she did a great job overall.  This is, without a doubt, her best performance in a movie thus far in her career.  Her character is tough, fierce, and resistant in trying to protect her 1 year old (or 17 year old in the future) from harms way, including Gosling's Luke.  In fact, her best scenes are two different scenes, one with Gosling and the other with Cooper, that both reflect on each other in a way.  She definitely belongs more in dramatic films rather than stupid comedies (not including 'The Other Guys') or superhero films.  Ray Liotta has about 20 minutes of screen time overall, but he is a ferocious monster in every scene he's in.  Like, damn, he is a fantastic villainous actor!  That's really all that can be said about his performance.  Ben Mendelsohn, who plays Luke's only friend in the film Robin, is a great supporting character and such a nice screen presence.  I found out after the film that the actor is in fact Australian.  His American accent sounds so real, it's pretty hard to tell he is anything but an American citizen.

Dane DeHaan of 'Chronicle' also does a fantastic job, playing the older son of Ryan Gosling's Luke.  He's like a polar opposite of his father, and yet he consumes his father's criminal identity towards the end of the movie, and frankly you do feel for the character.  Bradley Cooper's son in the film AJ, played by Emory Cohen, is a different story.  This character also is a polar opposite from his father, but in the worst way possible.  Cohen captures how it might feel to rebel against their successful and "pure" parents.  Every actor in this movie gives a performance that may not soon be forgotten.  Not even the smallest of characters are easily forgotten, because they all have something to do with an essential point in the brilliant script.

Director Derek Cianfrance not only directed this film, but he also wrote the film.  To get this off the bat, this is the first fantastic movie to come out in a long time that was an entirely original idea and not taken from any other source material.  Cianfrance co-wrote this movie with Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, whom aren't known for anything really big.  What's so great about this script is that instead of playing out like a regular movie, it plays out like a three act play, which is pretty unique.  Every character gets the amount of screen-time needed for them.  Each story wraps up nicely and smoothy flows into the second story as if each story was dissolving into itself.  Not only that, but Cianfrance's direction really got some believable performances out of each actor.  His choices at where to put action and disturbing scenes were perfect.  This is a filmmaker who one day could be hailed at the same regard as maybe Steven Spielberg.  Seriously, this guy has some serious talent whether it's orchestrating a mad chase between a man on a motorcycle and several police cars, or if it's creating an effective dramatic sequence that puts the audience on the edge of their seat.

'The Place Beyond The Pines' is the first potential Oscar contender of 2013.  This is an example of how a director can tell a story over the span of three generations and still keep the audience invested throughout, despite a nearly 2 and a half hour running time.  The actors are all spectacular, particularly Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.  The script is great and has a nice flow to it and no slow moments whatsoever.  To top it all off, the original story is a nice breath of fresh air in a season of remakes, true stories, and 3D fiestas.  'The Place Beyond The Pines' is, without a single doubt, the best movie of the year so far, and it has set a huge bar up for any other movie coming out this year.


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