Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

For the most part, when I go to watch a not-so-mainstream film like The Place Beyond the Pines, I tend to prefer more quirky, comedic films, such as last year's Safety Not Guaranteed or Steve Carrell's upcoming The Way, Way Back. However, the trailer for The Place Beyond the Pines greatly intrigued me, and, after seeing Silver Lining's Playbook, I will probably watch anything starring Bradley Cooper. He really impressed me in that film, and I couldn't wait to see him in another drama (also pumped for The Hangover Part III!!!). Even so, I was a bit hesitant, because I'm not a huge fan of Ryan Gosling in his bad boy roles. I watched Drive in 2011, hoping that it would be really gripping, but I just didn't care for it, especially compared to his role in The Ides of March. Gosling's role looked to be extremely similar to his role in Drive, save the car, add the bike. So, in an intrigued state of hesitance, I trekked off to watch The Place Beyond the Pines...

More so than any film I've ever seen (that wasn't converted from the stage), The Place Beyond the Pines was separated into three defined acts that had very unique stories. The most unique thing was how easily the story flowed with very little interaction between the main characters, Gosling's Luke and Cooper's Avery. Each character had their own story, which was very intriguing. Avery's story, in my opinion, was absolutely amazing, as it was as simple and honest as anything I have ever seen. The lack of over-dramatization really had me hooked, and I could not get over how simple the plot surrounding Avery was. In a matter of seconds, his life went from ordinary to complicated. I won't spoil it for you, but it was a situation that any cop could find himself in, which increased the simplicity. Although I'm dwelling on this one part of the story, the other two acts were also great. The ending wasn't quite as good as I would have liked and expected, but it was still quite satisfying.

While I didn't think the performances were amazing, the characters certainly were. With Luke and Avery at the center of the drama, the other characters were able to feed off of that drama, without becoming an unnecessary distraction. Kudos to whoever created these characters and brought this film to life.

As I said, the simplicity of the film kept out the complicated, unnecessary characters. As a result, the negatives were few and far between. However, there were a couple that I found subpar. Kofi, the boyfriend of Eva Mendes's Romina, played by Mahershala Ali, was not exactly what I thought he should have been. I think maybe he was the one character that needed a bit more drama and possibly a different actor to play the role. Was he awful? No. But, he could have been a better character. Also, Emery Cohen was not a good match for his role as AJ, the son of Avery. For some reason, I just couldn't stand him.

I won't spend too much more time praising Bradley Cooper's Avery, but the role was just amazing. Gosling's Luke was also great, and I preferred him a ton compared to Gosling's character in Drive, who was similar. He was a lot more likable, resulting in more compassion on my part. Because I cared for both of the main characters, there were conflicting emotions that had my feelings confused. The other character that I loved was Ben Mendelsohn's Robin, who sort of took Luke in and helped him get up on his feet, giving me a chance to like him. Mendelsohn's performance was probably the best in the entire film, so be on the lookout, if you decide to go watch.

The Place Beyond the Pines blew every other 2013 movie, to this point, WAY out of the water, and I want to strongly urge you to all go watch this film. The story itself and the way that it's told was just brilliant, which is something that is hard for dramas these days. As I said in my expectations, usually I don't like straight dramas, because I prefer to laugh a bit along the way. If you look at my best drama list from 2012, the only comedy-free films on the list were The Impossible and Les Miserables. Even Argo featured the oh so funny Alan Arkin. I usually can't connect to characters who have these super dramatic things happening without any comedic relief, but this film did such a good job of balancing that drama with reality, making it a great success, even without the comedic aspect. Kudos to everyone involved with this film, which absolutely blew me away. I give The Place Beyond the Pines 4.03 out of 5 stars.

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