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The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines
(directed by Derek Cianfrance, 2012)

I'm not sure what to say about this movie and yet I am sure about what to say.

First of all, it's long (140 minutes) and it's broken up into three different sections, I guess. The first part deals with Ryan Gosling as a carnival motorcyclist stuntman who discovers that a woman he hooked up with in the past (Eva Mendes) has given birth to his child, Jason. She is now living in a house with her new boyfriend. Ryan Gosling's character -- Luke -- gets a job at an auto repair shop, but the guy who runs it talks him into doing bank robberies. The second part of this film deals with Bradley Cooper, who's a police officer, and the third part deals with Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling's sons fifteen years later when they're in high school. There's stuff I'm leaving out, but it's best that you just see it all unfold as you watch the movie.

I walked into this movie knowing absolutely nothing about it except I was told that Ryan Gosling was in it. I like Ryan Gosling very much, yet I also rolled my eyes at the thought of seeing a Ryan Gosling movie. Oh, great. The mannequin. I love Ryan Gosling, but he feels so overrated to me now. When some people don't see why he's considered such a great actor, I understand what they're saying. To me, he's like a gorgeous male model that they throw into movies to make them beautiful and popular. His characters and his acting always seems so quiet and one note. He does the same thing yet again in The Place Beyond the Pines. "Oh, look -- Drive with motorcycles," I thought.

I realized later that the movie was directed by Derek Cianfrance -- who's that? I wondered. Turns out he directed Blue Valentine, another movie with Ryan Gosling, and one that I've seen (and reviewed in this thread) and really liked a lot. I could see how the two films were directed by the same guy.

The Place Beyond the Pines has, from the looks of it, received mixed reviews. There's a lot of positives, but there's also quite a bit of negative reactions. When this movie ended in the theater for me, I thought, it's really good, but it's not great. A lot of people have called it a "mess." I'm not completely sure why... and yet I understand it.

First of all, WHAT THE HELL EXACTLY IS THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES?! I think I know what it refers to... and yet I don't. It's an odd title. It's a movie title that I think is used more to evoke feelings. But I don't know what this "place" is. The movie is all storytelling, yet I haven't learned what the place is. Is it the auto repair shop that Ryan Gosling worked at? Is it metaphorical? Is it a place that Bradley Cooper ends up going to twice in the film? (Probably.) Does it have a much deeper meaning?

That's the thing about this film -- what was the point of it? I liked it, but I'm not so certain about what was so necessary about telling the story. Is it a movie about fathers and sons? Is it supposed to be a "creepy little town" kind of story? The final act of the movie felt a bit like it could be Chronicle Part II since Dane DeHaan from Chronicle was in it and basically he seemed like the same character he played there and did the same kind of things, except levitate.

The movie feels "chunky." Lots of story, yet not much reason for it. And also -- you don't really get very well developed characters. It's just a lot of posturing (the kind of thing Ryan Gosling likes to do, I think.) The main character itself seems to be the town that these people are living in. The place beyond the pines, I guess.

I liked it, though. But it probably could have been a lot shorter. For the most part, though, it kept my attention. Here and there, though, I caught myself losing focus, but I was able to snap out of it.