Sunday, April 21, 2013
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liota, Ben Mendelsohn, Dane DeHaan, Emory Cohen
Director: Derek Cianfrance
The first thing you should know about The Place Beyond The Pines is that it's too long. Just in case you have a hairdresser appointment later in the day--you're going to have to furtively call on the cell phone you're not supposed to use in the theater and reschedule it. That's how long the movie is.
But you get Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in the same film, so quit yer bellyachin! These are two leading men, so ya gotta wonder...hmmm...how they gonna work this? No problem--the first half of the movie belongs to Gosling, and the second half belongs to Cooper. Probably the only way the two of them would agree to being in the same film together.
So when I say The Place Beyond The Pines is essentially presented in two acts--and if you want to get technical, three acts--you can begin to understand why it's too long. The end of the first act is disconcerting, because you start to think it's the end of the movie, and you're saying, well, that was kinda short! Then you realize (if you are me) that the first part is a prologue to the rest of the movie, which then takes off in another direction. So you hunker down for the rest of it, not knowing until near the end how it is all connected. And it is all connected...the movie just takes its time getting there.
The reason I'm speaking in generalities is because you can't go that far in describing the plot without giving too much away. But I'll give you this: Luke (Gosling) is a motorcycle stunt driver working for the carnival. One night after the show he is approached by former one-night-stand Romina, (Eva Mendes) who clues him in that he is now a papa. Instead of moving on with the carnival, Luke decides to hang around and try to become a presence in his son's life, which will be difficult because Romina is living with another guy. This is the first stupid thing Luke does. The second stupid thing is he becomes a bank robber to get some cash to lavish upon Romina and the boy. For a while it's easy money because Luke goes zoom zoom on his bike and gets away fast. But it's incredible just how stupid this guy is, and he is going to meet his match in young cop Avery Cross (Cooper). Avery also has a young son, and that is going to factor significantly into the rest of the plot .
Fast forward fifteen years, and A Place Beyond The Pines becomes Avery's story. He has parlayed being a hero cop into a burgeoning political career for himself. But kids are always acting out and embarrassing the folks, and Avery's teenage son, A.J., (Emory Cohen, as a young Brando type--he's one to watch) and Luke's teenage son, Jason, (Dane DeHaan) are going to carry forth the connection between Luke and Avery by proxy. DAMN...now looka there...you've already made me tell you more than I wanted to. STOP TAKING ADVANTAGE OF ME !
Notable performances from Gosling and Cooper, but director Derek Cianfrance must have gotten so caught up in the intricacies of the plot that he forgot a few minor details--like aging the adult characters a little after that fifteen year skip forward. They all look the same. He DID remember to age the two boys--because...uh...they were just toddlers in the beginning--so that was some clear thinking there.
Anyway, the main thing I took away from The Place Beyond The Pines is that stupidity runs in the genes, and it often passes down through the generations.
Oh, and did I mention it's kinda long?