The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines ★★★★½

Three movies for the price of one, which was free because I downloaded the DVD screener, but I digress...

The film is really split up into three acts which I think need to be talked about individually.

ACT 1 - Drive, Motorbike Edition
It's impressive how much of a character arc Cianfrance was able to stuff into such a short segment. Goslings character goes from carefree badass, to well-meaning parent, to bank thief in 50 minutes and it doesn't feel forced in any way. The segment does a great job of justifying all of gosling's actions in a way that even when he is doing something morally wrong, it's difficult not to root for him. The ending for the segment is also very powerful and the last lingering frame is as macabre as it is beautiful. Despite all of this act's strengths it's hard not to draw comparisons to Drive; it felt particularly jarring when the redneck said "you have a very particular set of skills" but in all fairness there are worse films to resemble than Drive.

ACT 2 - Two Dimensional Characters Saying Things
This is a really great part to have a quick nap or to head out to the foyer and grab some more popcorn. After the impact of the ending of the first act this whole segment just seems inconsequential. It's really only there to introduce the characters which are in the final act and to make you hate Bradley Cooper's character. There is almost no character development for Cooper and I was never able to "get into" Coopers frame of mind. I think what I was meant to get from this section was "Cooper is willing to compromise his morals in order to get to the top" but all I really got was "Cooper does things which don't make sense for reasons which are never explained".

ACT 3 - ;_;
I really loved the final act of the film, it completely made up for the awkwardness of the second segment and then some, though I can't really explain why. I think it's because, at the risk of sounding too edgy, I could really relate to the characters and the situations they found themselves in. I could relate to the characters apathy and desire to be accepted and understand the way the characters friendship formed so quickly out of a common interest. I've been fortunate enough to experience the thrills of some of the hijinks which the characters experienced and seeing them onscreen brought back the feelings much more strongly than I would have expected. The final scene with Cooper was also very well executed and it was the only real example of him opening up to the audience. What we find in Cooper's wallet turned what I experienced in this segment on its head which left a very bittersweet taste as the prospect of revenge suddenly became a whole lot less appealing. The final scene was wonderful in its simplicity and it made the entire film really feel as though it had come full circle.