The Place Beyond the Pines

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Tyler Clements

Grade: B

I jokingly referred to this movie as Drive 2 with some people because, uh, Ryan Gosling plays a quiet guy who is really good at driving and robs people. What I found out while seeing the movie was that I was pretty much right, for the first third at least.  The structure of Pines is very unique, and I felt like that was one of its greatest strengths but also its greatest weakness.  To break it down without giving too much of the movie away, it’s pretty much three separate storylines with overlap in the characters.  Of course all of the story is impacted by the decisions those characters made in the earlier storyline.

I felt like this was a very cool way to do the movie.  Basically we only get to know Gosling’s character, Luke, for the first third of the film.  He’s an ex-carnival-stunt-bike-rider, who quit when he found out he has a son that he wants to take care of.  Now the part that annoyed me about this structure was, I was waiting the whole time to see where Bradley Cooper would pop up! But alas, he eventually shows up and his character, Avery, a police officer, sees his path cross with Luke.

I’m not really going to talk about the story anymore than that because it would give too much away and Molly hates when I just write synopses.  I’ll tell you what I didn’t like about this story structure instead.  It definitely dragged a little bit toward the end of each character’s arc.  While there wasn’t any extraneous story, it just seemed like it was taking a long time to get to the point.  Derek Cianfrance also directed Blue Valentine, and I feel like it did the same thing sometimes. I also didn’t like the fact that each new storyline introduced new characters that were integral to our character’s development, but then we either never saw them again or, in the case of Ben Mendelsohn’s character, only saw at the very end.

Speaking of Mendelsohn, I’d like to say that he is one of my favorite new actors.  This guy is in a bunch of cool things recently! The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly, and he played Jessa’s aloof father on Girls. Also, according to his Wikipedia page, he was in a Florence + The Machine video. His character, Robin, was one of the most interesting in Pines, but abandoning him after the first act kind of made me upset.

While I don’t think The Place Beyond the Pines was a “great” movie, it was definitely a “good” movie. It attempted to be as emotionally impactful as Blue Valentine, but ultimately, fell short. Really, it’s the kind of movie that is nice to see in theaters during the break from January until May when all the most awful movies are released. I’d consider checking it out to get back into the movie watching groove while we gear up for summer!

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