Friday, May 3, 2013
The First Great Film of 2013 - The Place Beyond The Pines - My Review
The Place Beyond The Pines - 2013 - Directed by Derek Cianfrance
No other person working in film today so embodies that of movie star/actor as does Ryan Gosling. Whether it be "The United States of Leland," "Half Nelson," "Lars and The Real Girl," or "Drive," he is simply the finest actor of his generation and further proof of that is submitted here.
Gosling stars as Luke, a tatted stunt motorcycle driver for the circus, and in the films captivating opening tracking shot, reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights and Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, we are introduced to him as we follow him through one long take as he heads through the carnival crowd and into a throng of fans waiting to see him enter what appears to be an oversized metal hampster cage, to do what he does best, throw caution to the wind. It is a bold opening and instantly made me feel that I was going to see something unique and what I got was just that. This is not a movie interested in the conventions of film.
Luke eventually runs into his old flame Romina (played by Eva Mendes in her best role to date) and finds out that he has a son. He has no money but wants to do right by his son. He decides to leave the traveling circus and stick by his family and while looking for a job chances upon Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) who introduces him to a way to make quick money, rob banks.
But this film is not just about Luke and his family. We are introduced to Avery (Bradley Cooper,) an ambitious cop looking to move up the ladder who sees his chance when he meets up with Luke. What results is a epic saga of these two families and how their lives interconnect.
Luke, despite his appearance, is basically a good guy looking to care for his family who gets in over his head. Gosling's portrayal of him is a remarkable piece of acting subtlety. He is able to convey so much pain without saying a word. It is the finest performance so far this year. Avery, on the other hand, is the image of perfect guy next door who does everything for the wrong reasons. When he sees corruption he brings it to his superiors only if he his to be rewarded in the process. Bradley Cooper, with all his charms, plays Avery with his emotions held in check. You can see him thinking when he his presented with obstacles and he holds the film together in its second act.
The third act is about the son's of these two men. Will they commit the sins of their fathers? In the film's haunting closing shot, we see one of them ride off West in a motorcycle unsure if he is riding towards his fate or against it.
It is to the credit of director Cianfrance that he so assured in his storytelling that he is willing to flip film conventions on their head and aim for something truly original. He has succeeded. "The Place Beyond The Pines" is the first truly great film of 2013.
Rating: 10 out of 10