“If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder.”
The Place Beyond The Pines is an ambitious film. It is a complex film, with a narrative that most would find choppy but I found that it succeeded and the result is a moving and poignant film. It tells a the story of ordinary working class men, who have one thing on their mind: how to make ends meet?
The film totes a superb cast led by Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper. Gosling plays Luke, who is a daredevil motorcyclist and small time crook. We first meet Luke in a dialogue free scene, that is truly wonderful. I find that scenes where there isn’t any dialogue, speak louder for a character than scenes with too much exposition. Luke is this big guy, with muscles and tattoos all over. When you see him, he would come across as intimidating but he talks quietly and behaves timidly. It shows that he is a man capable of love but also extreme violence.
Luke runs into Romina, who was a former one night stand. Here Eva Mendes gives an amazing performance as Romina, probably her best performance in a long time. Luke finds out that he has a kid with Romina and desperate for the kid not to turn into himself decides to quit his motorcycle stunt show and stick around. You see Luke didn’t have a father growing up and didn’t want his own kid to go on without one.
You see Luke isn’t good at many things and turns to robbing banks with his new friend. Safe to say things soon start to go wrong as Luke gets desperate to provide for his son and Romina, making bad decisions after bad decisions.
Then you have Bradley Copper who plays Avery. A rookie cop who was smart enough to graduate law school but decided that he would rather be a beat cop. Unlike Luke, Avery has a father who was a former judge. His father doesn’t approve of his son being a cop. Avery lives in the same town as Luke and one day their paths cross. Here is where “Pines” switches the narrative and we now follow Avery and his life of corrupt cops and politics.
Bradley Cooper grounds his role. He plays an honest cop who starts facing moral decisions on his road to greater power. You don’t have the slick, smooth talking Cooper this time around, but a man who is just starting out in life and is nervous but is a quick learner and figures out how the game is played.
There is a third shift in the narrative where the film leaps forward fifteen years and follows Luke and Avery’s sons. This third and final act is where this film staggers for me. After switching characters twice already it is harder to emotionally connect with these young boys. Also, the story with these boys isn’t quite as exciting but the script and the performances remain terrific throughout.
The change in characters bothered me a little at first because I was fully invested in one character that the film changed its point of view to another character. After the movie, when I let everything I saw marinate in the mind for a bit, I found that I ended up caring for everyone on screen. The characters a truly brilliant and some of the best performances these actors have ever given.
“Pines” is an incredibly melancholy film. The score of the film is absolutely amazing. Mike Patton created a score that is sad but also uplifting. It just makes the whole film beautifully brooding and slightly dark. It even ends with Bon Iver song so beautifully melancholy is how I’d describe the entire film.
The movie begins with a man racing on his motorcycle and it ends with a young man racing on another motorcycle. The young man is trying to get away from his fate but is most probably going to end up there regardless. It is this and other thought provoking issues that, “Pines” deals with.
That is what I got out of the film but you might watch, “The Place Beyond the Pines” and get a different meaning out of it. It is a film about fathers and their sons but it also discusses other topics. It is a film that demands examination. One thing is for sure you will feel something and you will question what you just saw. The film makes good use of its runtime telling a wonderful story with wonderful characters.
Score: 3.5 out of 4