You know that sinking feeling you get when you realize the group of people behind you in the darkened movie theater will not stop talking for the next two hours? There are very few movies that can quiet that kind of people. “The Place Beyond The Pines” is one of them.
Directed and written by Derek Cianfrance of “Blue Valentine” prestige, “Pines” is not a movie you can text and talk through. The movie is set up as a triptych film, no doubt inspired by Cianfrance’s time studying under famous avant-garde filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon of the CU film studies department. This triptych formation never allowed the film to grow stale, even over its two hour and 20 minute span.
Due to this three-movies-in-one kind of plot, it’s a hard film to explain content-wise. Overall, the film is about fathers and sons, family legacy, actions and consequences and the emotional baggage that stems from those consequences. The first section of the movie centers on heavily tattooed Luke Glanton, a traveling motorcycle stuntman who begins robbing banks to support his newborn son, played by Ryan Gosling. Ever the quiet, brooding type, Gosling fits the character perfectly – though his portrayal of Glanton never feels reminiscent of past roles.
However, it wasn’t Gosling that stole the show as the best actor. That renown goes to the supporting character of Robin, played by Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn. Though Mendelsohn has limited screen time, he becomes a thread connecting Luke, in the movie’s first section, to his son in the last. Out of all the other actors, Mendelsohn amazes by what he doesn’t do: act. Every word that comes out of Mendelsohn’s mouth is through the voice of Robin; not a single line feels scripted or performed. Perhaps most importantly, Robin becomes a character totally devoid of stereotypes. Despite the fact that it is Robin who first convinces Luke to rob banks, he never seems like a grand manipulator or even a criminal mastermind. He’s simply a guy trying to scrape by, who has a friend with what he calls a “unique skill set.”
Compared to the stellar acting from Mendelsohn, Gosling and Bradley Cooper, the movie’s final section falls a bit flat. It was an interesting choice to have the sons portrayed by little-known actors, compared to the star-studded cast of the movie’s beginning. Emory Cohen, playing A.J., the son of Avery (Cooper), speaks in a fake Brooklyn accent throughout the movie in order to appear thug. While a seemingly practical acting choice, the accent goes too far and mostly just makes you grit your teeth. When comparing the overly gangster A.J. to the overly pathetic Jason, son of Luke (Gosling), the dynamic of the pair becomes overpowering, each actor taking their characters just a bit too far.
The odd pair of sons at the movie’s end, however, is not enough to even tarnish the effect of the movie as a whole. The film is expertly crafted, and the extra homework that Cianfrance and his actors did shines through the script. The cast is stacked from major characters to minor: Ray Liotta, playing detective Deluca, is a particularly well-crafted cameo. In short, “The Place Beyond The Pines” has all the hallmarks of a real classic. I, personally, can’t wait to see what Cianfrance will come out with next.
“The Place Beyond The Pines” opened last Friday, April 5 in Colorado.
Contact CU Independent Senior Staff Writer Sarah Elsea at Sarah.email@example.com.