So here are my thoughts to my most anticipated film of the year ‘THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES’. Before I begin you have to note this is a film where you have to be in a certain ‘mood’ to be in to see it. This is because you will take more from it if you are in right ‘mood’ to watch it, as you will ‘get’ more a understanding on its themes on Legacy, and Effects and Responsibilies of Fatherhood, something which director Derek Cianfrance has yet to explore in his look at his theme’s on Human pride, as started with his raw debut of 2010’s ‘Blue Valentine’ (a film he initially wanted to make after this).
To begin the acting is first-rate, Ryan Gosling holds the film’s first 40 minutes well, and noticeable support from Dane Dehann, Eva Mendes and (very briefly) Rose Byrne add to this by electrifying the epic narrative which spans 15 years. Best of the performances though comes from Bradley Cooper, someone who I’ve never been a huge fan of. But after ‘Silver Lining’s Playbook’ and this, he really showing more of his dramatic theatre work to good effect, (see episode of ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’ to see where I’m coming from here) making him an actor to keep an eye on.
The real advantage to this film is its drive and ambition which powers the narrative along. While it might lack the rawness of ‘Blue Valentine’ (however saying this it is based over 15 years, making it harder to construct this), you can’t help but admire its drive to push on and try different narrative styles for the characters to explore the film’s central themes. For example the film starts out as a family drama, then after perfectly summing that up it turns into a police corruption crime thriller almost, before come to a teen angst drama end. While some will not like this, you again can’t help but respect Cianfrance’s drive to continue, and instead of playing it safe (yes I know I’ve been using lazy language so far in review), he is trying something new to explore these themes on Legacy and Fatherhood, even if some of the character arc’s might suffer from it (case in point Cooper’s son).
This ’’15 years later’’ part in the third act is something people might have difficulty with, and I think it’s up to you to ether exempt it or not, again this depends on the ‘mood’ you are in when watching this. And perhaps this grand narrative could be utilized more in a one-off TV show or something (that got a lot of people saying that films and TV are ‘’blurring lines’’). And maybe it is a more male centric dramatic story; however it is dealing more with fatherhood idea.
In conclusion, to see this all encompassing drive placed over an epic period of time, narrative arc is something which isn’t made as regularly in American cinema. While yes again it has flaws you can’t help but admire it, even if the drive can get in the way of stranded plot points. It will divide people; you have to be fully attentive to get the most from it, as it packs an awful lot in. Either way I strongly recommend it as it could, from the films I’ve seen released in the UK this year as my favourite one so far, and it something even film theorists might want to ”read into”. To clarify yes flawed, but the ambition and most of its drive make these grand American films which are not made no more. One of my favourite films of the year.