Dave’s 2-Word Review:
For me, it has always been a risk to watch a movie devoid of plot. By plot, I mean goal. What are these characters trying to do, what are the main obstacles they have to get through to get to that goal? That’s the classic story progression that you see in almost any film out there. The only exception is usually coming-of-age, which typically just follows someone through their everyday life and watch as they learn life lessons. The Place Beyond the Pines is neither coming-of-age or follows the classic story progression…it’s a lot different than what you’re used to, but still has a story easy enough to follow.
Ryan Gosling stars as Luke, a motorcycling superstar with an unfulfilled and routine lifestyle. When Luke finds out that his old fling (Eva Mendes) had his son, Luke has the uncontrollable desire to turn his life around. He sees the motivation to step out of his routine life and be a father to his son, the only problem is that he simply does not have enough cash flow to make that happen. So he does what a lot of people in turmoil would do, he makes it happen, but he chooses the wrong path. He begins robbing banks, and his life of crime starts to catch up to him, which is where Avery (Bradley Cooper), a rookie cop comes to play. I can’t really go beyond that description, or we’ll be heading into spoiler alert territory.
If anything, the theme to this film is greed and bad choices, beyond that, the theme is life. The characters on screen have no apparent goals, no conflict apart from internal, it is in effect, life unfiltered…and I love it. Yes, Ryan Gosling’s character has the goal to take care of his son, however broken his plans are. I can’t really explain why, but that goal isn’t central to the story of the film as a whole, and when compared to the rest, seems minimal. Honestly, a lot of this movie has to do with a spiraling snowball effect, one bad choice leading to another, so-forth. That alone mirrors life if we don’t sit back and think about our actions. Such realism is actually hard to fully capture without losing a lot of the entertainment value, which this film maintained entirely.
The acting is beyond amazing. When you happen to capture realism in the way that The Place Beyond the Pines does, you get something really special and unique – A-Class actors that seem like unknowns. Seriously, we have all seen Bradley Cooper in so many movies, yet he keeps pulling off brilliant performances that separate him from the rest. His role in Silver Linings Playbook was really special, and the same applies here. Cooper is really beginning to understand how to choose his roles wisely, and he has. The same goes for Ryan Gosling. That man knows he can act, and proudly shows off his abilities here.
IMDb.com lists this film as a “Crime | Drama”, but that’s just not what the movie is. There is crime….yes…there is drama…yes…but if you could simply make “life” a genre – that would fit this film better. Mostly, this film is drama, but the word drama insinuates dramatic, which (to me) feels like a word meaning something unrealistic. I’m telling you that this film just feels like a realistic representation of how life could very well happen. The circle of life is probably also a big theme of this film, and that’s not hard to see either.
If you got the time to spare two and a half hours, I would, without a doubt, suggest you check out The Place Beyond the Pines. It is a beautiful film, and if nothing else, a very interesting watch if you’re into filmmaking. The Place Beyond the Pines comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Jul. 23! Check it out!