Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Just beyond the pines?  Aim higher.  Aim for the infinity and beyond!

The Place Beyond the Pines – 4 out of 5

While the title may sound pretty damn ominous, like the place beyond the pines is where you’ll either be raped by escaped convicts, sacrificed to some ancient dark lord by haggard witches or find a roadside diner where the food always gives you diarrhea (or some horrifying combination of all three!), but the film may be one of the most dramatic and emotional films I’ve seen this year.

Or you just find this beyond the pines.

The Place Beyond the Pines tells the story about Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling); a motorcycle stuntman who finds out that an ex-lover of his; Romina (Eva Mendes), had his child. Glanton quits the glamorous life of being a stuntman in a traveling fair and tries to provide for his baby and make things right with his ex. Glanton finds part-time work with a repairman but learns that something more drastic needs to be done. He and the repairman decide to rob a few banks in order to get the money they need and, in doing so, Glanton crosses paths with a young and hungry cop; Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper). Cross, after becoming a decorated officer and a hero, learns that his department suffers from an amazing amount of corruption and he seeks to rectify that. Even after Cross and Glanton’s paths together end, it’s soon realized that their faithful meeting ends up having an impact on their children when their paths cross (there's a lot of path crossing here).

The face says I can trust this man when he suggests robbing a band and the lighting
says what's the worst that can happen.

What?  Ray Liotta plays a corrupt cop in this movie?  What
kind of topsy-turvy world do we live in where Liotta plays
a man with loose ethics and morals?
 When I first heard of the film, I honestly didn’t give it much consideration. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in it, it just was one of those films that I didn’t feel an overwhelming desire to see and felt that I could easily wait to watch it. With this notion in my head and actually seeing the final product, the end results were mind-blowing. I was reeling from the heavy story and performances that were just jaw-droppingly incredible.

Gosling is now contractually obligated to wear cool coats in all his films.

Um...and, apparently, really stupid looking pants.

Avery Cross' son; AJ, looks like he invests heavily in Axe
Body Spray.
 The story is just amazing here. Even more so than I thought it would be since the film has so many different elements and a few tales going on in it. The story of Luke Glanton doesn’t parallel what Avery Cross is going through and neither of their tales match what their teenage children; AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan), are experiencing. That’s what I found worked so incredibly well in this movie. It starts and I thought it was about one thing and then another element got thrown in and I thought it was going to alter directions but it up and goes to a whole different route—than the kids come into play and it goes into a third direction that isn’t that far from the first direction it was going.  I realize that sounds super confusing but this movie showed to have a lot of layers to its story and proved to be more than just a linear story about a cop and a bank robber. It really made the film ├╝ber-interesting and kept the film flowing at an addicting pace that made the two-plus hour running length feel like no time had passed.

Cooper, seen here making an "oh look, there's pie" face.

The other aspect that made this film just tremendous to experience was the performances from a great cast giving life to captivating characters. Gosling continues to show that he is the new Hollywood It-man as Luke and Bradley Cooper gives an amazing grounded performance as Cross. The film, however, gives you more than just two rising stars to carry the film as everyone involved gave a performance that felt real and was dramatic and emotional. This film was the first time, in a long time, that I’ve seen Eva Mendes play a role that wasn’t just awarded to her because she’s easy on the eyes. I literally can’t remember the last time I’ve seen her actually act and she does it awesomely well in this film. However, the real show stopper for me was seeing Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as Luke Glanton’s son.

I consider this movie Mendes' redemption for Ghost Rider.

That look makes me wonder if the powers DeHaan had in
Chronicle weren't just special effects.
My first introduction to DeHaan was the “found footage” superhero film Chronicle and I was less than impressed with his overacting he did in the film—I was also less than impressed with the film but that’s beside the point. However, seeing him in this I now look at him in a different light. Granted, I didn’t see the potential for an annoyingly bad actor when I saw his performance in Chronicle but this film showed me a side of him I didn’t think he was capable of. His performance (along with how interesting his character’s part in the story is) helped the film end on a strong, powerful point that left an emotional impact when the credits rolled.

It left an impact on Gosling, as well.  Look at Sad sad.

In all honesty, The Place Beyond the Pines has such great performances, such a strong and compelling story and is put together unimaginatively well that it deserves my highest score of a 5 out of 5. The only reason I didn’t end up giving it such a score is the replay value on this film is not high. I’m not saying there isn’t a time where I will go back and watch the film again, I’m just saying that if I were to watch it a second or third time, I’m not entirely sure the film would have the same emotional impact it had when I saw it with fresh eyes. Sure the story will still be stupidly awesome and the performances won’t get worse with age but the surprises to the story as it unfolds will not result in the same reaction. So, I ended up settling on a 4 out of 5 for this really powerful film.  It's still freakin' great though!

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