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    August 8, 2013

    MOVIE REVIEW: THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

    “The Place beyond the Pines” marks director Derek Cianfrance’s next indie-collaboration effort with one of the most talented actor of our time, Ryan Gosling. The pair of actor-director was last seen in “Blue Valentine”, a rousy-sexual drama that garnered high acclaim thanks to the raw emotional ride and engaging performances from Gosling and Michelle Williams. Now, three years later, Cianfrance attempts to replicate that unexpected success again but will be doing it in a different set of methodology. “The Place beyond the Pines” is a generational drama that pits morality and compromising choices together on a crossroad that will eventually leads to a chance for Cianfrance to envision something more ambitious than ever. But does his efforts worthy in the end or it just merely crumbles down by weighty ambitions of his own?



    Genre: Drama
    Classification: 18
    Release Date: 1 August 2013 (only in GSC International Screens)
    Running Time: 141 minutes
    Distributor: GSC Movies
    Director: Derek Cianfrance
    Screenplay: Derek Cianfrance and Ben Coccio
    Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Chris DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Rose Byrne

    Plot: The highly anticipated new drama from director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine") powerfully explores the consequences of motorcycle rider Luke's (Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling) fateful decision to commit a crime to support his child. The incident renders him targeted by policeman Avery (Golden Globe Award nominee Bradley Cooper), and the two men become locked on a tense collision course which will have a devastating impact on both of their families in the years following.
    Sadly but true, “The Place beyond the Pines” will not be the next “Blue Valentine” but this indie effort is still offering some strong pros in the bag. But while “Blue Valentine” is focused, this one goes beyond it in a larger scope. The movie is told from the perspectives of its several characters, first by motorcyclist daredevil Luke (Ryan Gosling) who founds out that he fathered a son with his ex-lover Romina (Eva Mendes) and is determined to provide it all for his family even if it means to sacrifice his career and turns to bank robbery. Then, the story is continued by a rising rookie police Avery (Bradley Cooper) who is on his navigation around the corrupted police department and will one day will finds himself on a cross-path with Luke. Finally, it closes through the eyes of Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen), Luke and Avery’s sons respectively, which owns standard teenager problem but seems to be on-click with each other.

    With the three equally but different narrative sections on the table, it turns out to be wildly deviant from what you have been expecting. The movie takes the audience into an emotional journey of two generations, two families and two choices, each connected by a string of past and future. But as much as it is connected by that string, the outcome is far from that. Before I go into venturing the three acts, it is safe to say that “The Place Beyond The Pines” is a great family drama and it is extraordinary touching, albeit wasted potentials somewhere.

    What started out as a great potential of divulging and emotional ride loses the steam once it reach the last act. In the first act, Ryan Gosling single-handedly carries the plot, thanks to his charm, charisma and amazing acting. Throwing in the mix is some interesting characters – Romina, Kofi (Mahershala Ali) and Jack (Craig Van Hook), they give the whole story a perfect balance of dilemma and a great heart-warming family drama. We can see the ambition of Cianfrance when he glanced through major life events in short span of opening act. There are not a lot of action scenes but we all know this is not the kind for one. Even with the absence of actions, the plot is able to provide an alternative form of tense and excitement on its own.

    Even with some weird progression into the second act, Bradley Cooper’s fantastic performance and along with the addition of new characters like Deluca (Ray Liotta), Bill (Bruce Greenwood) and Al Cross (Harris Yulin) still makes it a swift transition that never forgets what it should do in the first place. But there are already signs of trouble as early as here and by the time it commits itself into the third act, the lengthy running time is pretty much a distraction. It is a slow burn of story dragging and completely unnecessary elements which leads to a tad loose story fluidity. Here is where I will say that all the great start comes to an abrupt end. The introduction of Luke and Avery’s sons as embodied by Chris DeHaan and Emory Cohen is okay, but their story is not well-connected, abruptly displayed and offers little closure and satisfaction.

    As much as “The Place Beyond the Pines” is able captures the essence of a well-made family complex soapy drama with enough balance of critical decision, dilemma and morality struggles embedded in between; it is the strong performances of Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper that lives it up to the ambition set by Derek Cianfrance. But it is the third act brings all the scope downward with a dragging story that does not quite fit into the original pipeline, offering an abrupt, derivative and very little closure.

    MY RATING:
    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 4.5
    Cinematography: 4.0
    Effects: 3.0
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 15.4/20.0

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