The Place Beyond the Pines

“Before watching this movie, when surfing around online, I got blurbs from two different reviews. Paraphrasing, one stated that Ryan Gosling (and his section of the film) was the only real strong point. The other stated that the movie seemed to be trying to say a lot, it just wasn’t entirely sure what exactly it was saying. I agree with both points.

Also, a couple hours before hitting the theater, I was having my weekly meeting with my boss. After discussing work things, she asked about weekend plans. Although, in this case, she knows me well enough to cut to the chase and just ask what movies I’m seeing. I’d mentioned this one. She told me she’d seen Eva Mendes publicizing the film, and she learned the title of the movie meant Schenectady, NY (or rather, Schenectady means Place Beyond the Pines). That itty piece of context was incredibly helpful in mentally framing the movie.

I hadn’t realized how segmented this film was. It pretty much breaks into 3 sections: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, their future kids. Gosling plays a drifter who tries to settle down when he finds out he has a son, and turns to bank robbing to provide for his family that doesn’t really want him. Cooper is a rookie cop trying to come to terms with all the different directions his life is pulling him in. And everything that happens between those two ends up affecting the lives of their two kids 15 years later. Moving from section to section, each was weaker than the last.

It all sort of ambled along and didn’t really get anywhere. I was into it, but unsatisfied. Gosling was fantastic, and while the perfect symmetry and spacing of fake movie tattoos bothers me, they did look good on him. For a character with a bit of a dark side, he certainly brought a refreshing amount of heart to the role. Cooper’s storyline felt more contrived. We’ve learned the boy can act, and he was certainly trying, but he was given rather crap material. I was interested to see what happened with the kids (especially when seeing Dane DeHaan playing one of them) but that ended up going more nowhere than the previous stories. Again, going back to the reviews I’d seen, it was like the film wanted to say a lot, it just never quite decided what that was.

The Place Beyond the Pines – \m/ \m/ \n

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