“The Place Beyond the Pines” – Review
“The Place Beyond the Pines” (translation is “Schenectady) is a well paced and superbly crafted film that feels more theatrical than movie in its structure and it is cleverly broken into a 3 part trilogy where it delves head on into the human consequences of when moral and immoral decisions are made.
Ryan Gosling plays a traveling carnival motorcycle rider named Luke's who early on discovers he has a son from a casual relationship a year ago. With no meaningful employable skills to speak of Luke decides to naively commit a series of crimes in the hopes of financially supporting his child and also maybe recapturing the love of his former girlfriend Romina
Romina (Eva Mendes) has physically, but not necessarily emotionally moved on to a new committed relationship. But it is from Luke’s ill-advised criminal activities that the film’s central plot ensues and examines how it affected two generations with perilous consequences involving both a young police office named Avery (Bradley Cooper) and eventually 15 years later impacting Avery’s and Luke’s teenage sons as well.
With 2 plus hours of running time (with the 3rd trilogy being the less dynamic of the stories), “Pines” manages very well to tautly hold on throughout the film its cinematic haunting style, mood and tone. But its real strength is in the way the Director is not afraid for all of the films characters to be emotionally dangerous to each other. To show genuine human despair and conflict, human corruption and redemption; to feel human dread and helplessness and in the very end pose the question are we preordained at birth to a certain legacy or is life just a compilation of random and instinctive responses and judgment to ups and downs; ad hocking our way to solutions through years of sometimes fateful intersections and roadblocks.
I love this film immensely because it has a brave heart at its core and does its powerful story telling without an unflinching uncompromising eye. Not once ever giving us any one character to have sympathy for. Not once making us feel a bit comfortable as to where the story may be taking us or maybe not going at all.
Strong performances from Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes (her best work yet), Ray Liotta and Bradley Cooper who shows here his Silver Linings Playbook effort was no fluke. Bradley has real heavy weight acting skills on display in “Pines” that I am absolutely certain will have him on the big screen as a star for many years to come.
4 - Stars