*Note: This movie is still in a limited release.*
This movie is one of the toughest movies that I think I’ll ever have to review, but it’s a masterpiece. It’s a hard movie to review because to dive into the story requires a lot of story detail/spoilers. I will avoid huge details. This is one movie that had me expecting a certain type of movie due to the trailer and by the time I sat down to watch, I realized that this movie was entirely different. I knew the premise, but had no idea that the execution would be so shocking and incredibly memorable.
This is one movie, but I felt like I watched three separate movies that are all connected together. When you watch the movie, you’ll understand exactly what I mean. I’ll refrain from talking about Act 3 because that in itself will spoil Act 1 and Act 2. That’s something that I don’t want to do.
Ryan Gosling (who is almost near flawless in most of his movies) plays Luke Glanton. He’s a motorcyclist/stuntman who returns to Schenectady, New York after being away for about a year. He runs into a former fling named Romina who is played by Eva Mendes. She informs him that she gave birth to his child and upon hearing this news, he decides to quit his job to stay with Romina and his son Jason. The problem is, she lives with her boyfriend and Luke has no money. To ensure that his son will be provided for, Luke decides to rob banks after being convinced by an acquaintance named Robin. Even though he’s providing for his child, Romina’s boyfriend, Kofi, wants NOTHING to do with Luke. We get some intense scenes between them, but nothing will stop Luke from providing.
Ryan Gosling’s robbery sequences are insane. I felt like he almost improvised how he sounded while robbing the people. His voice screeched and he genuinely sounded nervous. I’m not sure if Gosling really just wanted his character to sound this way or if he was emphasising how dangerous and nervous someone who is inexperienced may act during a robbery. They were tense and sometimes very terrifying moments. I was on the edge of my seat. I felt that Eva Mendes was good for her role, but she didn’t do it for me as much as Ryan Gosling did.
The second act takes a HUGE tonal shift when we start following Avery Cross who is played by Bradley Cooper. He has only been on the force for about 6 months, but after an injury during a pursuit with Luke, he is hailed as a hero. He’s hailed a hero because he was injured on the line of duty and he is still up and running. He spends his days with his wife Jennifer and his 1-year-old son. While recuperating, Avery is seen talking and hanging out with his fellow co-workers who tell his wife that they need him for cop business when instead they’re raiding people and keeping the money. They’re corrupt cops and try to drag Avery into it because “he deserves it.” Since he’s a hero, he “deserves” more money than what the precinct is paying him. Ray Liotta plays the mastermind of all the corruption on the force and it makes Avery question whether or not to make the biggest decision of his career. Does he join them in the corruption or does he take them down to make the city a better place?
It’s excellent to see Bradley Cooper star in movies that aren’t comedies. Sure, Silver Linings Playbook had a lot of comedy, but it was also a drama. I’m always so used to seeing him in movies like The Hangover, that it’s a breath of fresh air to see him in a movie like The Place Beyond The Pines. Ray Liotta always seems to play corrupt cops or mobsters so I wasn’t surprised to see him in this movie as a bad guy. With that being said, Liotta was as good as he always is in his movies.
With no spoilers, I will say that the final act is seriously surprising. I had no idea what was going to happen and as I watched the story wrap up, I kept being astonished by what was happening. It’s a twisty and very interesting third act!
The Place Beyond the Pines does a lot of things right. Besides the acting from leads Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, there are some really impressive chase sequences that remind me of watching the show cops. There is a tension and extremely dramatic content that would usually make other movies fall. This movie executes most of the plot elements and daring sequences perfectly and I was never bored. Even after the HUGE tonal shift that I talked about, I was just so sucked into the movie that I didn’t realize that I was watching a 2 hour and 23 minute movie.
Director Derek Cianfrance brings us his second movie and doesn’t let us down. After the huge success that was Blue Valentine, I was wondering if he could top that and he did! I must let it be known that Derek Cianfrance is now officially on my radar. I don’t think this man can make a bad movie.
The biggest thing that The Place Beyond the Pines does is make the audience think. One moment, one action affects many people. Some people may think that the movie is full of coincidences, but I think that this movie is very realistic. One moment can change the lives of many different people. Before we do something, do we really think about who this will affect? It’s something I never really thought of, but the more that I thought about it, the more I realized that this movie is so true to our world. The Place Beyond the Pines isn’t an easy movie to watch and it also doesn’t explain everything to you, but that’s what makes it so amazing. It’s a great conversation piece and it’s a great morality tale. Gosling and Cooper totally made this movie and they made it so moving, heartbreaking, tense, raw, real, painful, but most importantly, they made an astonishing movie that hopefully will be talked about for years to come. It’s a movie that I will always want to go back to and I know I’ll be watching this again.