Movie review: “The Place Beyond the Pines”

Yesterday I went to see “The Place Beyond the Pines”.  A movie that would get my vote for best film at the Oscars next year… It probably won’t as a) it’s not ‘that kind of movie’ and b) it hasn’t been released at the right time of year, but I loved it.  And I hope it will at least get nominated.

Here’s the trailer:


So, SPOILER ALERT.  To talk about some of the things I liked best about the movie I am going to have to give away some events that happened in the film.  If you haven’t seen it yet and plan on going then STOP READING NOW!

I’m not going to summarize the whole storyline, but the quick synopsis from IMDB is “A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective”.

That doesn’t do it justice at all.

I first wanted to see this film as I really like Eva Mendes as an actor and I’d read a short review somewhere that said that her role in this movie was quite different from her usual roles.  It was different, and perhaps in a way that – at first – seems like a bad thing.  What I mean is, her role in this movie is not a strong female role.  Her character, Romina, is generally quite passive to the events that are unfolding around her.  She doesn’t seem to react when the men around her are f***ing up their lives, and in turn her life.  She doesn’t kick off.  She just seems to accept what is going on, without trying to take charge.  But actually, the story is not about her character so much.  It’s really about the male characters and what is going on in their heads and their relationships.  We actually can’t tell if the Romina character is trying to take charge or assert herself as we don’t see that much of her.

The overarching theme of the film is relationships between fathers and sons.  But it’s also about how a moment can affect your life forever.  A moment of unprotected sex.  A moment of rushing into a room without thinking.  A bad decision here.  A good decision there.  Bottling up your feelings and not knowing how to resolve things.

One particular thing that I really liked about the film was… (SPOILER ALERT, don’t make me tell you again)… that it is divided into three parts.  Very clearly.  Ryan Gosling dies a third of the way through!  Or at least his character Luke Glanton does.  He’s the main character, how can he die a third of the way through?!  Yes, I was thinking that at the time.  It’s shocking.  He is definitely dead from the first shot you see of the body; definitely dead.  And you wonder where the film is going to go from there.  But it continues.  And it continues to be good.

The second third concentrates on the cop that killed him,  Avery Cross, Bradley Cooper’s character.  You see his struggle with his conscience.  His struggle with the macho corrupt cops he works with.  His relationship with his father, and his son.

And the last third deals with…. No actually, I’m not going to give that away.  You’ll have to go see it.

It’s a great movie.  It is harrowing in parts, but also shows some beautiful moments between characters.  I empathised with each of the main characters (well maybe one not-so-much, he was a douchebag).  It left me wanting to see it again there was so much to think about.

The music and cinematography is wonderful also.  The score really builds tension at key moments and you’re totally feeling the same adrenaline that is being portrayed on the screen.

It has received mixed reviews according to Wikipedia but gets FiveStars

from me 🙂

One response to “Movie review: “The Place Beyond the Pines”

  1. Nothing against the cast at all, it’s just that I found myself getting less and less engaged with the story as it went along. Nice review Helen.

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