The Place Beyond The Pines

9 May

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Synopsis: “A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.” (Rated R; 2 hours, 20 minutes)

I knew this was supposed to be a good movie, but I still prepared myself to see something that I’d find slow and boring. Why? Because it’s an indie, it’s a drama, and it’s 2 hours and 20 minutes. I added that up in my mind and assumed it would be a major drag, but knew I had to see it anyway. This took place last week, as a part of my celebratory three-movie day for passing the nursing boards. (Some people have fancy dinner celebrations, my fiancée knows me well enough to award me a triple-movie feature!) The Place Beyond The Pines had the unfortunate timing of following Jurassic Park; anything would feel slow after that exciting one.

I’m happy to report that in spite of the many reasons it could have been a solid, but boring experience, I thought it was fantastic, and anything BUT boring. It’s honestly such a well made movie, that it’s hard for me to find any flaws. Let me analyze it piece by piece:

The Acting

Everyone was great in it. Ryan Gosling may truly be one of the best working actors today. He was so believable as a suave lady’s man in Crazy, Stupid, Love. He was utterly convincing as a sweet person with mental illness in Lars And The Real Girl. And in The Place Beyond The Pines he fits the part of a white trash guy desperate to win back his baby mama like a glove. Is there any role he can’t do well? The movie was broken up into three sequential stories. The first starred Gosling, the second was led by a fantastic Bradley Cooper, and the third followed an intriguing Dane DeHaan. Cooper previously surprised people when he was great in Limitless and especially Silver Linings Playbook. The difference here was that he got to play the part of a normal person, without relying on the eccentricities of an offbeat character. Not that it’s easy to act eccentrically, but it can be even tougher to give a powerful performance when you’re acting somewhat…normal. Dane DeHaan was most notably in the sci-fi flick Chronicle, a movie I highly recommend for its inventiveness. He had a quiet intensity that made you feel for him, while at the same time you were nervous that he could explode at any moment. Last year Ben Mendelsohn played a scummy low-level criminal so well in Killing Them Softly, I was thrilled to see him here in a variation of that role that was kind and sweet, but still a lowlife. Eva Mendes played one of her least glamorous roles I’ve seen, and was totally believable in spite of her obvious beauty. Rose Byrne was good as Cooper’s wife, but didn’t have very long to make a mark. But anyone who’s seen her in the excellent show Damages knows she’s more than proven her acting worth. And Emory Cohen is quite new to the acting scene (he is on the show Smash which I’ve never seen) but he was so believable as a self-entitled rich punk that I wanted to wring his neck. All of the actors truly felt raw, realistic and gritty, without an ounce of schmaltz in their performances.

The Direction

Derek Cianfrance wrote and directed this epic drama, and seems to create characters on screen that feel so realistic, that it takes you a few minutes to walk out when the lights turn on. His previous movie was Blue Valentine, an extremely depressing look at the love-life of Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. That movie was such a downer to sit through, that when we later watched Amour, Adi compared her gut-wrenching feeling to how she felt with Blue Valentine. Once again in The Place Beyond The Pines, Cianfrance did such a fantastic job that it was hard to get up afterwards. The movie Cianfrance created hits you emotionally like a ton of bricks, and when you’re finished you want to just go home and decompress. It’s not even a downer like those other two movies I described, but it makes you feel like you’ve been watching the dramatic lives of real people, spanning many years, and it’s just a lot to take in when all’s said and done. What an amazing thing to accomplish two movies in a row. Clearly Cianfrance has a gift for creating reality on the screen, and so far he’s left me unsettled…twice. Well done.

I realize it may seem funny comparing his movies to Amour, but what they have in common is the feeling that you’re watching absolutely real characters, and then getting to know them a little bit too well. As a result, when horrible things gradually occur, it becomes tougher and tougher to watch. Again, this is no easy task for a film-maker to accomplish. And I’m GLAD most directors don’t know how to pull this off, because I prefer to let loose and relax most of the times I’m watching a movie. I want to enjoy my silly popcorn flicks! He creates a story on the screen that’s like a bucket of ice water on your face; it wakes you up and keeps you captivated, but I can only handle it once in a while.

In spite of this being a 2 hour and 20 minute indie, I was riveted from start to finish. Whether it was a fast-paced scene with Gosling robbing a bank, or a quiet moment with Bradley Cooper talking to his wife in bed, it was electrifying. The movie was done with such a sense of taut suspense that each and every word and moment created a sense of vital importance. I would love to see what the director would do with a comedy, because at this point there can be no doubts left as to his ability to make a hell of a drama. My wonderful fiancée had already sat through the marvelous Jurassic Park, and now the heavy movie that was The Place Beyond The Pines. She loved both films, but was ready to go home. Yet a third one was still in store…

The movie was better than Drive, the critically-acclaimed Ryan Gosling drama that was interesting, but never had the heart that affected me throughout The Place Beyond The Pines. It was however on par with Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance’s other major release with Ryan Gosling. The two movies may have been equally well-made, but this one was certainly more interesting and less depressing to sit through.

Quality Rating: A+

Boaz Rating: A+ (This was the rare movie I expected to think was good but also slow and boring, and thus give it a lower Boaz Rating…it wasn’t so, it may have been very slow-paced, but I wasn’t bored for a second)

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15 Responses to “The Place Beyond The Pines”

  1. movierob May 9, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    great movie, but I didn’t think the 3 story was as good as the first two and that was quite a disappointment to me

    Like

    • boazconstrictor May 9, 2013 at 11:42 am #

      I know you didn’t, I saw that in your review. Each of the first two stories I found extremely powerful, but I felt the third and final one tied it all together, the imagery in that last one of him biking down the same road was quite moving.
      Sorry you didn’t.

      Like

  2. robbinsrealm May 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Well written review! Congratulations on passing your nursing boards.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor May 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

      Aww, thanks so much for that, it was a happy reason to go, and we saw some damn good movies in the process! 🙂

      Like

  3. movierob May 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I can recall twice seeing triple features in the theater. 1993 – Sneakers, White Sands and Pet Semetary 2 and in 2001 – Bandits, Hearts in Atlantis and The Shipping News

    Like

    • boazconstrictor May 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

      Ha, of those I still loooove Sneakers, such an underrated movie with fantastic fantastic music. White Sands I watched later on video and found entertaining but don’t remember it. Never saw the Pet Sematary movies actually. Bandits I remember thinking was disappointing, I liked Hearts in Atlantis as a sweet movie, and I may have actually missed seeing The Shipping News.

      Like

  4. cindybruchman May 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Nice write up! A+ ? Wow! Okay, I will check it out

    Like

  5. brockingmovies May 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    I think this is one of your better reviews that I have read. Good job! Keep it up.

    Like

  6. blackshirt13 May 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    This is one of the movies on my to-watch list! Unfortunately for me, it was either not shown here or I’ve missed it. 😦

    Like

    • boazconstrictor May 22, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

      Well, although it’s a shame you missed it, it’s not as important to see on a big screen as many other movies I recommend, so you can still appreciate it when you see it later on your TV. 🙂

      Like

      • blackshirt13 May 22, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

        Yeah, I would still watch it later in whatever media I could find it in. 😀

        Like

  7. table9mutant June 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Good review! 🙂 I know I’m late on this but missed your review. This is pretty high on my list of films I’ve seen this year – it was a pleasant surprise.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor June 20, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      Thanks, that’s very kind of you, hope you’ll get the chance to see it!

      Like

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