The Place Beyond The Pines is the kind of film that I love. The film is broken up into three stories, starring three different actors, and it all comes together at the end. The film is about two men, one is a criminal, the other is a cop, and both have a decision to make. One makes the right choice, the other makes the wrong one, and fifteen years later, both decisions have a huge impact on their children, who come together in High School. Each part features a different actor, Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Dane DeHann. While they were all terrific, it's Cooper who really stands out. I thought he was good in Limitless, but he blows that performance away, giving an Oscar worthy portrayal. Due to the violent nature of the film, of course the Academy overlooked him, but you will be hard pressed to find a better performance all year. He was magically and is the thread that connects the stories. Without Cooper being at his best, this film probably wouldn't have worked out as well as it did. There are so many supporting stars and the story becomes so much more complex than it appears to be. Watching The Place Beyond The Pines was really like seeing three different short plays, that are loosely tied together, but don't make much of an impact until you see the fourth and final act. Once you see the whole picture, you will be blown away, both by the magnitude of the story and an unexpected conclusion. The cast and previews for this film really didn't excite me that much, but the reviews were strong, I gave it a chance, and what I found was another must see movie.
Ryan Gosling knocked another performance out of the park. Bradley Cooper picked it up right where he left off. Yet the film's choice to go for a Shakespearean tragedy of a third act... (spoilers ahead)
... was simply not where I wanted the story to go. Sure, fast forwarding 15 years made a few things very clear, specifically Ryan Gosling's neon glasses and Eva Mendes Mom jeans, but in doing so we moved away from some amazing performances in favor of brand new characters. There's still a great weight to seeing the offspring of the main characters carry on living without full knowledge of their fathers' respective sins, but there was a lot more drama that I would have preferred to see from Bradley Cooper's character. After all, he had just turned state's witness against his fellow policeman. His life was surely on the line in doing so and that six month period would have made for a hell of a movie.
Still, it's beautifully shot and impeccably acted, which I expected from the director of Blue Valentine. While it's long, it's an engrossing experience and great in the theater. Give it a shot.
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