Sunday, 9 June 2013

Film Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

About the film
The Place Beyond the Pines is a crime/ drama film that was released at the cinema on 12th April. The film has a run time of 140 minutes and is rated 15.

A locally famous motorbike stuntman, Luke, works for a travelling fair. After one of his shows, an ex-lover, Romina pays Luke a visit and he finds out that he is the father of her young son. Wanting to be a part of his son’s life, as his own father was never around, Luke quits his job. However, Romina lives with her current boyfriend and doesn’t want Luke around. Determined to provide for his son, Luke turns to a new friend who advises him on the art of robbing banks – a quick, easy way of making enough money for everything he needs.

The story is split half way to follow low ranking cop, Avery Cross. After an unexpected day at work, he gains hero status but doesn’t seem to be able to live well with what he has done. Avery struggles with his new found status as well as really realising what being on the police force can mean. This part of the film follows a plot about corruption and bribery within the police force.

Split again, the film then follows the sons of both Avery and Luke and how they come to know one other. Each separate part of the film intertwines and merges the three parts together, showing how one life can alter and affect another.

What I thought
Up until now, a film with Ryan Gosling in has never disappointed me. However, that isn’t only due to his insane hoteness, it is also because he is a fantastic actor. As soon as I saw the trailer for The Place Between the Pines, I had to go and see it. In this film, Gosling stars as Luke, a motorcycle stunt man who travels around with a fair. He’s pretty carefree and known for being a bit of a bad boy. Along with his bleached blonde hair, inside out t-shirts and sleeves of tattoos, Gosling definitely looks the part. He also has a certain presence about him which makes you want to know more about his life and who he is.

Soon into the film, Luke finds out that he has a young son, something he had no idea about. As he is meant to leave in a few days with the fair, he has a decision to make. Deciding to stick around and be a father, Luke worries about money and how he will support his new family because he doesn’t want to be a low-life and failure like his own father. I loved the plot line surrounding Luke and his own dad as it helped to strengthen his own reasons for doing the best he could for his own son. Gosling gives Luke’s character a deep background and make it possible to look past his appearance and attitude at the beginning of the film.

Playing the boy’s mother is Eva Mendes who does well opposite Gosling. Her character doesn’t have the best of lives although she is sharing the home of her boyfriend. She doesn’t tell Luke about his son herself and instead, he finds out from going to visit her at home. Mendes plays a hard character but a caring one at the same time. She wants the best for her son and doesn’t want his life disrupting but she still wants Luke to be a part of his life somehow, even if that isn’t going to be easy to pull off. I really enjoyed Mendes’ gritty performance and thought the role was different from what I am used to seeing her in.

So, in order to provide for his son, Luke decides to rob banks after some encouragement from a new found friend. He believes it to be easy and quick money and something that will solve all of his problems. However, this causes him to run into Avery, played by Bradley Cooper, a cop with a young son of his own. The film takes a bit of a twist here, swapping main characters and following a different family dynamic. Cooper has recently grown on me after watching Silver Linings Playbook. However, I don’t think he was nearly as good as Gosling in this film. At times, he comes over as a bit weedy and without a backbone. He seems to just go with the flow, regardless of the fact that he has a law degree and is a cop. He also wasn’t a very likeable character but I think this was to show that people with money aren’t always the nicest or the most conscientious.

The second half of the film follows Avery's life choices and how this affects his own son and relationship with his family. The contrast between the two families and their backgrounds was fascinating and not what I was expecting from this film. While there are really two different halves to this film, they are intertwined at the same time and things are affected because of each of the characters. It is quite hard to explain the set-up of the film without giving away massive plot spoilers. Trust me when I say it sounds a bit strange but it works extremely well.

The Place Beyond the Pines was a lot more gritty and raw than I was expecting for some reason. I’m not sure why I thought this though as Gosling’s films are usually quite different and a bit dark. I think the style is helped by the camera work at times. While Gosling is riding his motorbike, the camera becomes shaky and uneven, which makes the screen seem like you could be riding the bike with him. The camera technique made the film look more real for me. It made certain scenes more exciting, even when they were quite disjointed and choppy.

The setting isn’t anything amazing, as the film is set within two areas of one city. However, these two areas are completely different from one another, which again shows the comparison between those with money and those without. This film blends the boundaries of what is considered normal for each category though, giving us characters who are far from stereotypical and those who act unlike how you would expect them to. Although mostly set within a city, there are some stunning scenes which use the motorbike to the fullest. Imagine a man on a bike in the middle of the woods, weaving in and out of the trees. The colours and images were so beautiful during this part of the film.

While I was expecting to like this film, mainly because of Gosling, I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. It has a fantastic story, great cast and characters and it was utterly fascinating. This is easily one of my favourites this year so far.

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