The Movie: 8.5/10
Brooding, moody, mysterious, these words are tattooed on almost every movie memory I have of Ryan Gosling. It is fair to say this applies to The Place Beyond The Pines. His character is what he is, trouble with a “pretty face”. We mostly seem to appreciate this kind of character in the film world. Remember Dirty Harry? Five Easy Pieces? First Blood (That’s Rambo for the kids)? and probably an uncountable number of cinematic anti-heroes. That’s what we are talking about here, the anti-hero. I don’t usually dig around in that part of my brain that recalls film history and other film classes from college, it was a very long time ago, but sometimes it rears up and reminds me it’s there.
The handsome stranger in town is Luke, what a perfect name for a handsome stranger. This guy comes with other story telling goodies, an intriguing, dangerous, almost surreal way to make a living, stunt motorcycle riding in a circus. He’s got the obligatory tattoos, on-trend hair cut and color. His wardrobe is straight off the pages of a teen heart-throb magazine of the era the story is set in. He rides a cool motorcycle. He’s relatively quiet, impulsive, unpredictable, and even violent. So, why do we like him? He’s also got those good intentions tucked away behind the guts and glory of his stunt riding persona. We identify with that brood he puts on because it’s connected to a desire to do what is right, mostly.
After discovering he has a young son in one of the towns he passes through with the circus, the culmination of a lifetime of struggling and running from responsibility and a lot of drama, trauma, and living we are not privy to, he wants to take on the duty of being a father. Good intentions, we are suckers for good intentions, even when they are wrapped in a package we KNOW we should never open. The young women who has mothered his child understands beautifully that this will never work. She’s saddened by the obvious reality, he doesn’t know how to be the kind of man he wants to become for his son. Eva Mendes is amazing. She looks at Gosling/Luke with eyes of deep sadness, but not regret. She knows what will come of a life with Luke and she can’t let herself give in to that anti-hero charm.
I should say Gosling is also a pure pleasure to watch. Not for the obvious reasons. He appears to almost let us into his mind as the character, not only from the outside. There are moments when the workings of his mind are all over his face, but you have to look at every subtle movement of an eyebrow or flicker of the corner of a lip. It’s not like he doesn’t play these types a lot, fair enough, and that means he’s figuring out the intricacies of portraying these men and I appreciate his efforts.
The whole of the story is somewhat complex, and to be perfectly honest I think you should just go watch the movie and see for yourself. I will mention Bradley Cooper because as the movie progresses his part of the tale brings him as much to the front as the leading man as Gosling. Cooper is as intense and as powerful as Gosling, but in very different ways. His character is more ambitious, calculating, and able to maneuver through the underbelly of life. Gosling/Luke was just muddling through with his unsavory choices, wearing his struggles on his face, literally. While Bradley/Avery has lived a life of privilege not only of money, but of being taught how to be the clean-cut, generic face of a politician with one hand manipulating the hidden ugliness that bubbles just under the surface.
I won’t say this movie is without faults, but what I will say is, so what. The few things that bugged me just melt away the more I think about the best it has to offer. It’s a somewhat quiet, methodical, well paced story that sneaks up on you. The different chapters, so to speak, bring it a different kind of life from a lot of other movies trying to tell similar stories.
Overall I think back and remember the music giving life to the brooding, the moodiness, the mystery, along with the cast and delicate staging of the different eras we pass through on this jaunt with Luke and Avery. I would watch it again, this time with less up close study of the performances, which was simply unavoidable with the cast being as good as they are, and more just letting the whole thing happen.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes – Usually deleted scenes end up being scenes that were deleted because they sucked. The four deleted scenes here should be in the movie.
- Going To The Place Beyond The Pines – A 5 minute EPK making of piece. Way to short and way to uninformative.
- Feature Commentary With Co Writer/Director Derek Cianfrance – If you are a fan of this movie at all you need to listen to this commentary. Director Derek CianFrance walks you through a number of topics ranging from photography to his relationship with Gosling.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 3/10
Such a crappy cover for such a good movie. Boring. I would not have this as a poster. There are so many images from this story that could have made it amazing. The menu is what it is, navigation without much personality.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Universal have the video quality down at this point and The Place beyond The Pines sports a spiffy 1080P/AVC transfer that preserves the look and feel of the theatrical version. The cinematography here is nothing short of stellar and the grain structure of the non digital source is fully intact. No signs of edge enhancement or ringing and perfect looking fleshtones. I love the way Universal pay such attention to detail when it comes down to transferring a film to Blu-Ray other companies should take note.
The DTS-HD Master audio here is simply alive. You will notice this right from the opening sequence as you walk behind Ryan Gosling in the fun fair. Things that are happening off camera are brought fully to life without you even seeing them due to the subtle panning and clarity of sound in the rear speakers. There are a couple of lines that disappear under the loud musical score but nothing that seems out-of-place in the realistic sounding world of The Place Beyond The Pines.
Rent this movie first. Watch it along with a couple other brooders, Jason Bourne, Tyler Durden, even Batman in some of his incarnations. You will find that there are degrees of brood, but they all do tug at something in us that conflicts our desire to “fix” them, and urge to hate them. It’s worth the rental price, and then possibly a purchase, but only if you find it for around 12 bucks. I’m not a fan of paying more, so there ya go, a biased opinion.
Overall Score 8.5/10