The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines ★★★★

The Place Beyond the Pines is presented like a three act play. My one problem with this film is that, ironically, the first story is almost too good. Luke Glanton and his drive to take care of his son by any means necessary was ridiculously compelling, brilliant film making. I had tears in my eyes at times, and the word masterpiece came to my mind with eyes glued to the screen. I am already a fan of Ryan Gosling, one of my favorite actors going, and the performance he gave here in Pines was probably the second best of his career, trailing only his first effort by Cianfrance Blue Valentine. I quickly tried to wrap my mind around the fact that I was watching what might be the best movie I see all year in April.

The second story was still excellent and remarkably well made, but it lost just a little bit of a steam compared to the first portion. Silver Linings Playbook was the coming out party for Bradley Cooper, and this was the official stamp on his resume that it was no fluke. The dude can flat out act. It wasn't so much a flaw that this felt less compelling than the Gosling story, but more so a compliment to the first third of the film. While the first 45 minutes were a masterpiece, this segment was merely an excellent film. A familiar story of police corruption used time and time again, yet nothing here felt dull or lifeless.

The third and final portion of the film follows the sons of both Luke (Gosling) and Avery (Cooper) 15 years after the original stories, showing how the actions of their fathers would affect their lives and change the course of their families forever. The acting here? Outstanding. The direction? Fantastic. The writing? Pitch perfect. Yet something here just felt...off. I wasn't as compelled as I had been during the first hour and a half or so, and I can't really explain why. Part of me thought the message was being delivered in a little bit of an over the top, heavy handed way here, but then I wondered to myself...was it really over the top and heavy handed? Or was I simply a lucky suburban dude whose parents had been married for 41 years with little issues and I simply couldn't understand the pain of what a 16 year would go through in that situation?

Even with the slight letdown of the final act of the film, it was still an absolutely outstanding work of film art as a whole. I can't wait to see it again and really cement my thoughts on it, and I recommend it to anyone who appreciate these types of films that are so sorely lacking these days. Original, ambitious and tremendously crafted.

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