If it's crap ... We'll tell you
This movie doesn't come out on Blu Ray until tomorrow, but I was lucky enough to get an early copy of it, so let's start the review.
'The Place Beyond the Pines' stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta in this crime drama that's directed by the director of 'Blue Valentine', another Ryan Gosling film. It starts off with Ryan Gosling's character and he's this motorcycle stunt driver who eventually starts robbing banks in order to support his son who he just found out about. This premise is what sets up the rest of the film and it's told similarly like 'Pulp Fiction'. The events aren't out of order or anything like that, but the film is separated by three stories that tell the story of a certain person. The first one is about Ryan Gosling, the second about Bradley Cooper and the third about Dane DeHaan.
This is a movie that I've been looking forward to seeing and reviewing for a while because of all these great things I've heard about it. It was apparently one of those limited release films, although I might be wrong about that considering that I somewhat recall seeing it listed in the show times for my local theater, but I never got around to seeing, now here we are. I've just finished watching it on Blu Ray and I can finally say that 'The Place Beyond the Pines' is one of the best films I've seen all year. 2013 has been a pretty weak movie year so far, so it was refreshing to see a movie like this after dealing with stuff like 'Movie 43' and 'The Smurfs 2.'
The first thing that needs to be talked about are the performances. Ryan Gosling is basically playing that guy he almost always seems to play in movies lately. His character is that one quiet guy who's kind of emotionless in some scenes, but he's intense when he needs to be. Gosling did a really good job in this movie and since he's rumored to play Batman in 'Man of Steel 2', I figure that it wouldn't hurt to get a little more use to him as an actor. Bradley Cooper plays a cop whose life is changed by Gosling's story and he gives a really great performance. He surprised the hell out of me in 'Silver Linings Playbook' and it's this movie that'll make people realize that he's capable of playing really dramatic roles rather than just 'Hangover' films. I hope that Cooper is nominated for an Oscar for his role, but I can't help but feel this is one of those films that'll get completely overlooked by the Academy. Eve Mendes and Ray Liotta are both also really good, but I was also impressed by Dane DeHaan's performance. A lot of people know him as the bad kid in 'Chronicle' and that might be how I refer to him for a while because I'm that much of an asshole, but he really impressed me in this movie.
As far as the story goes, I think the movie as a whole is really solid. I liked how it was one of those films that divided it into three separate stories and each story, in my opinion was more interesting than the last. It's not a predictable film at all and there were plenty of moments where I didn't know what was going to happen and it helped that the characters actually interested me. Ryan Gosling is more or less playing his character from 'Drive', but I was invested in his problems and his scenes where he's robbing banks reached levels of intensity that haven't been very present in most of this year's films. I was really interested in Bradley Cooper's character and his family as well. There's a story that involves his son and when shit hits the fan, you really feel that everything has built up to this moment and it all plays out in a really intense and dramatic way.
This movie also reminds me of something Nicolas Winding Refn would make, not just because it's more or less an art house film, but because of how it looks. There's a lot of emphasis on cinematography and how the overall look of the film is. I'm not usually one keep an eye out for certain camera angles and lighting and stuff similar to that, but when they stand out, I tend to notice them and they do stand out in this movie. It's shot in a way that does have an artsy vibe to it, but I wouldn't say that it's as artsy as something like 'Drive'. It's not an all out action film and there's plenty of drama involving family and stuff like that, but it works for what the film sets out to be and all the dramatic sequences are really well done.
The major theme in this movie is being able to make things right in one's life after something goes bad and that message successfully plays into the three stories that are told. Even though it's the same message, it manages to convey itself in different ways and they all worked. Whenever a character's story is being told, you really care about how they're going to handle things and the whole idea of setting things right with others is told almost perfectly.
If I have one gripe with the film is that the last act of the film starts to drag on just a little bit. I feel that it could've been cut by about 10-15 minutes and the pacing would've been a lot better, but despite the pacing issues with the last act, I loved this movie and I can't find too many problems I had with it.
'The Place Beyond the Pines' is defiantely one of the best films of 2013 and I'm certain it'll be on my top 10 best list at the end of the year. The acting is great, the story was really engaging and dramatic in a really intense way, I loved the message, the film looks great and the three stories intertwine is a really satisfying way. I really recommend this film if you want a dark and dramatic crime drama, but if you're expecting a big action film with shootouts every 10 minutes, then this movie might not be for you. Nevertheless, 'The Place Beyond the Pines' is still a great movie and one of the best of the year.