I had no knowledge of The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) before I saw it, so my experience of the film wasn’t tainted by coming attractions or other people’s opinions. I’m glad of this because I think any prior knowledge of this film would have lessened its impact.
And what an impact!
This is the second time I’ve seen Bradley Cooper co-star in a drama (the first being the incredible Silver Linings Playbook ). Now I can’t say whether this guy just has the best agent in Hollywood, or whether he’s just that good – or both – but man, I’m gonna make a point of seeing more of his work.
The same goes for Ryan Gosling. I first remember him in the very well done Crazy, Stupid. Love (2011) – in which he was excellent. He’s excellent here, too. Initially I thought he might be a bit too “pretty” for the role, but I was wrong. (I was also wrong when I thought the same thing about Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp – hey, at least I’m consistent.)
And Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Emory Cohen, and Dane DeHaan were outstanding and totally believable as well – especially Cohen and DeHaan in their roles as teenage pot-heads. What helped here was the writing – it occurred to me that people spoke very naturally rather than sounding like they were working from a script.
Like the aforementioned Silver Linings Playbook (my favorite move of 2012, by the way), this film pulls its audience into a world that at times we’d rather not be in. The drama is never forced, however. It’s as if director Derek Cianfrance simply bait the hook, cast out his line, and waited for us to bite. Then he spent the rest of the film slowly reeling us in (no pun intended). Unlike a fish, however, I was very happy to be caught!
I’ve referred to this film as a drama, but it’s also part tragedy. Things go wrong – actually, terribly wrong – even though the intentions are often good. And efforts to put things right only end up making matters worse.
I’m being intentionally vague in this review because everything in the plot is interconnected – and I don’t wan to spoil your fun. The best thing I can do now is simply encourage you to see this movie. I’m pretty certain you’ll be very glad you did!