Monday, September 5, 2016

Movie Review: "The Place Beyond the Pines" (2012)

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Movie"The Place Beyond the Pines"
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

A stunt motorcycle rider quits his job at the circus when he finds out he has a baby boy with a woman he had a fling with a while back. In order to provide for his son, he starts robbing banks. This is a choice that sets him on a collision course with a rookie cop, leading to a conflict that will have repercussions for many years to come.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance, "The Place Beyond the Pines" is a dramatic tale of crime and its consequences across several families and two generations. This story is told in a very unique way as it is segmented in three parts that focuses on four different characters. It stars Ryan Gosling as Luke, a motorcycle stunt rider at the circus. When his show stops in Schenectady, New York, he is reunited with Romina, played by Eva Mendes, a woman he had a short fling with the last time he was in town. He unexpectedly learns this fling resulted in a baby boy, and now he wants to do the right thing by sticking around so he can be there for his son. Unfortunately, the only way he figures he can provide for them is by robbing banks, an idea planted in his head by the man he is staying with named Robin, played by Ben Mendelsohn. This sets Luke on a path that crosses with the second main character of the film, a rookie cop named Avery, played by Bradley Cooper. Their conflict leads Avery away from being law enforcement officer where he surrounded by his corrupt precinct to the DA's office and eventually into politics. It is in the third segment when the lives of these two families intersect again when their sons, AJ, played by Emory Cohen, and Jason, played by Dane DeHaan, meet in school and start to affect each other's life paths, potentially even permanently.

We didn't know anything about "The Place Beyond the Pines" before going into it, and we think if you're going to give it a chance that's your best bet for maximum enjoyment. This is a very compelling drama told in a wholly unique manner. We have seen thousands upon thousands of movies, but there are not a whole lot of films that tell a story in the way this one does. It shows how one moment, one unchangeable instance, can not only alter the path of one person, but the paths of many people for years to come. Luke having a fling with Romina and later learning he had a child with her caused a ripple effect, impacting the lives of so many others beyond just these two people who had a fling. Not to mention, the sins of the father wind up playing huge parts in the lives of their sons.

Despite this being a very slow-burning drama, and a long one at that, "The Place Beyond the Pines" remains engaging throughout its duration, and we stayed captivated the entire film at what was going on on screen. It helps tremendously that the film is gorgeous to look at, even when what's going on on screen is less than pretty. There is some beautiful camera work here, and the visual storytelling aspect is so well executed, we think Cianfrance and co. deserved to be nominated for their efforts. He sure knows how to pick and choose and frame his shots. We didn't know a whole heck of a lot about this movie going in and we were stunned at some of the bold narrative choices Cianfrance and the other writers Ben Coccio and Darius Marder took with the screenplay. Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan, and Emory Cohen all put on spectacular performances in this truly original film. It is a great watch for fans of independent cinema.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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