A Skeptical Review of The Place Beyond The Pines
I read the blurb for The Place Beyond The Pines and was apprehensive. I watched the trailer for this film and was psyched. I watched the film and am now emotionally exhausted. I can’t figure out how I feel about this three-part film. The first forty-five minutes are a borderline obscene whirlwind of Luke (Ryan Gosling, Drive), a motorcycle stunt driver, attempting to be a good dad to his newly discovered infant son with an old fling, Romina (Eva Mendes, We Own The Night). Heartwarming, right? Not really, since Luke’s response to his new found financial need is robbing banks. On his motorcycle (I’m still trying to get over the fact that Ryan Gosling may have the world’s least menacing robber voice. He sounds like a prepubescent boy while screeching orders at frightened bank tellers, which may have been an attempt to portray the desperate psyche of Luke.). The amount of adrenaline and hyper masculinity stuffed into this segment is almost too much, giving the impression that there was probably a specific market kept in mind over plot value.
Just when I was about to brush off this Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) helmed flick, enter Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) as ‘rookie’ cop Avery Cross, the saving grace for this slightly contrived plot line. Avery effectively ends Luke’s robbery spree but must deal with the ripple effect it has on his life at work and especially at home with his wife (Rose Byrne, Bridesmaids) and infant son. There’s police corruption, drug abuse, and father son bonding shoved before awkwardly segueing into the final segment, which takes place fifteen years later with Avery running for Attorney General and family drama stirring up.
I admire the ambition of the three-part story arc attempted in this film. The cinematography is lovely; the acting is excellent (especially on Cooper’s part), but the script just does not click. This may be attributed to the constant rotation from emotionally charged and fired up to almost softly dull and monotonous. Regardless of my qualms with the script and my exhaustion from the experience, this film is stimulating in an emotional way and movies that are successful in evoking this sort of poignant reaction and having cool theatrics are hard to come by as of late. I would recommend that viewers give The Place Beyond The Pines a try.