Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Place Beyond The Pines - Review ★★★☆

     The seemingly long drought of good movies, post-Oscars, has officially ended, thanks to Director, Derek Cianfrance. After the success of 2010's Blue Valentine (an honest take on the consequences of marrying for love), Cianfrance dives into a new facet of domestic livelihood.

    The Place Beyond the Pines is a thrill ride of recklessness, fatherhood, and the desperation of men to salvage a legacy worth remembering. Ryan Gosling reunites with Cianfrance to play Luke, a wild boy, who quits his job as a motorcycle stunt rider when he finds out about a baby boy he never knew he had with Romina (Eva Mendes). Luke finds a more profitable outlet for riding bikes: robbing banks, in hopes that the income will somehow offer him a clean slate in terms of his son's image of him. Luke's ambition catches up to him when he attempts two robberies in one day. After an epic chase, the story transitions to Avery (Bradley Cooper), who starts out as a beloved, hero cop recovering from a gunshot wound.

     Avery tries to take control of his destiny while being pushed in different directions; from his peers, who are dirty cops, his politically determining father, and his anxious wife and their one-year-
old son. Eventually, he succumbs to the pressure and becomes a blackmailing, self-loathing politician.

   After a fifteen-year jump, we venture through the consequences of both Luke and Avery's present turned past. Avery takes in his son, AJ (Emory Cohen), from his now ex-wife, for his last year of high school. It is here that AJ befriends Jason (Dane DeHaan), unknowingly the son of Luke. The boys, outcasts, get in trouble with the law and, soon after, revelations of their fathers' past come to light.

  Cianfrance makes a brilliant point of highlighting the way men selfishly attempt to reshape their legacy through their sons. Luke resorts to crime and violence in order to present himself as a father to be proud of, but when the inevitable tarnish on that image becomes clear, he removes himself completely from his son's world. Avery's father took advantage of his son's desire to please; in response, Avery neglects his son from infancy to avoid making mistakes and passing the unpleasant relationship he had with his father onto his son.

  The Place Beyond the Pines has its climax so early on that the film begins to drag in what feels like an hour and a half long third act. Also, the film is lacking in the development of Romina. She is a character that is essential to each of the men's progression, but, instead of creating a new layer to this male driven story, she serves as no more than a plot point without personality outside of a damsel constantly in distress.

This film has gotten very mixed reviews, but the short list of flaws in Pines is outweighed by its excellence. "If you ride like lighting, you're going to crash like thunder," and that's exactly what happens in The Place Beyond the Pines.
★ ★ ★