The Place Beyond The Pines -- A Tale of Redemption Among Fathers and Sons

                                   Derek Cianfrance -- director of critically acclaimed "Blue Valentine" (2010) -- wields a multi-generational morality tale with the film "The Place Beyond the Pines" (2012). He offers a microscopic look at the dangerous, dysfunctional fathers and sons. The narrative unfolds in three separate but interrelated stories. Each story is told in a straightforward manner, not demanding the viewer to piece together a cinematic jigsaw puzzle, like in the films of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. There is something honest in each chronicle, even though the acts are substantially weaker than the one it precedes. 

                                  Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) is covered in tattoos, including his cheek that shows a dagger dripping blood. He is a reticent motorcycle stunt rider (called as 'Handsome Luke') in a traveling carnival. His shows stops in Schenectady, N.Y., after meeting a woman named Romina (Eva Mendes), a waitress. She had known him previous summer and shows up mysteriously, looking for something she isn’t sure is there. Soon, Luke learns that he had fathered a child last time he was there with Romina. She lives with a boyfriend, but still has feelings for Luke, and so Luke quits the carnival, deciding to get to know his child, Jason better.

                                   Luke fetches a job at a roadside mechanic shop run by a motorcycle partisan, Robin (Ben Mendelsohn). Robin teaches Luke that there are more lucrative and easier ways to rob a bank. Luke's bank robbing techniques leads the film to the second part, involving a hero cop named Avery (Bradley Cooper). Avery is a strait-laced, ambitious cop, who is led by a cynical and corrupt veteran (Ray Liotta). He has a boy, AJ, the same age as Luke’s, who is threatened by his own righteous arrogance, which also undermines the relationship with his wife (Rose Byrne). 
                                  Avery eventually exposes the police corruption and demands a position of Assistant Attorney for all his troubles. Fifteen years later, Avery is running for state attorney general. The sins of the father's -- Luke and Avery -- are visited on their sons, AJ (Emory Cohen) and Jason (Dane DeHaan), in the third-act. They from an unlikely friendship based on the spoiled-rich AJ's ability to get cash and Jason's drug-dealer contacts. 
                                   The first segment involving Ryan Gosling is dramatically compelling and unpredictable. The first shot is one long take following Luke from his trailer to his motorcycle. That opening shot intrigues us to know more about this guy who has a job riding motorcycle inside a giant metal ball. Gosling, with the blond-hair and tattoos commands attention with every flick of his eyelashes, even though the character is similar to the one he played in "Drive." We can feel the emotions of Luke, whose desperation drives him to take risks to provide the child with a better upbringing than he had -- "My father was never around and look how I turned out." The second part though not very compelling (as the first), has a well-drawn character, Avery. Bradley Cooper once again proves that he is a resourceful talent. Bradley's Characters' reactions are believable and emerge as a charming winner who is nonetheless very difficult to like. 
                                 The Director makes us love the bank robber so much that it is hard to judge him harshly. And when our hero is cornered by police, we are suddenly asked to switch allegiance to the “hero cop.” The shift at that point, is a whiplash for a viewer. The shift also copes with issues rarely addressed in movies -- moral uncertainty. The third act is a bit sluggish and the characters of DeHaan and Cohen are flat and predictable (even though the young actors display a bravura skill of acting). 
                                Cianfrance is not a hastening storyteller. He prefers to hang out with his characters and turns the mundane conversations giving up nuggets of the past. Only when the character is good and ready, he pushes a bit of momentum. The basic theme of this film is masculinity’s cost and toll and Cianfrance tries hard to narrate it in a poetical way (as the title suggests). He also has an eye for an attention to human detail -- Luke vomiting after his first bank robbery and the family photograph which travels through all the three acts. 
                              Cianfrance's and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt's blue-collar landscapes of the United States feels like a place that time forgot, far away from the ruckus of politics or commercial popular culture. He prefers handheld shots but they are less distracting than in some other productions. The car chase scene and the opening motorcycle gigs are filmed in an effective manner. The disappointments attained from this film are only the product of its aspirations, which is easy to forgive. 
                              With "The Place Beyond the Pines", Cianfrance once again proves to be exceptionally skillful at wheedling electric performances from his actors and creating an hermetically self-contained world. If the film had carried on at the level of first 40 minutes, it might have been one of the best crime/dramas. Nevertheless, this is beautiful and bold filmmaking. 
The Place Beyond the Pines -- IMDb                          


Anonymous said...

I watched this movie along with my friend. My friend was not impressed by the pace of the movie but i kinda liked it. I liked your review too.


Arun said...

Looks like a superb movie. Need to watch it :)

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Anonymous said...

Loved this movie.

Jiggyasa said...

will watch this movie for a) Bradley cooper and b) your fantastic review.

Arun Kumar said...

@ Avinash, Thanks for the comment. The movie is not for all movie-goers. Many complained about the pace, but that's not a problem for me.

@ arun prasanth, Thanks for the comment.

@Jiggyasa, Thanks for the comment. This was one of Bradley Cooper's finest performance.

Debopam said...

A very nice review.... Have to watch it.....

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