Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: The Place Beyond the Pines

2012, Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) -- cinema

Graig is right. Ryan Gosling has already created a violent indie micro-genre for himself in only a few films, one of them being Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn, and even weirdly enough, the upcoming Only God Forgives. I think it more says what stands out for us with Gosling, than any real attempt at choosing a character typecast.  There may even have been violent characters in his more Hollywoodish earlier films, but it is not this image that seems to be emerging.  For sure, the prevalent images for the marketing of The Place Beyond the Pines were the violent, thuggish character Gosling plays, with his tattoos and bad-ass motorcycle.  Interestingly enough, he is only one facet of the movie.

This is a movie with three definitive acts.  I never truly thought of movies in acts, at least consciously, until Graig and I started talking movies.  Like with board games, he sees structure where I only see play.  He inherently sees a movie broken into three narrative pieces while I generally see only a story. But this movie is so much about its three view points, three jarring narrative shifts. We have Gosling, in the late 80s-early 90s (more likely a town in the mid-90s but stuck in the 80s) riding bikes and robbing banks.  We have Bradley Cooper, made a hero-cop by a shooting but challenged by the heroism of his act, and by corruption in his force.  And finally we have the children of the two men, fifteen years later, each dealing with their dads' legacies and failing in their own ways.

I so much wanted to enjoy this movie, but something nagged me about it as i watched it. Beautiful cinematography, wonderful acting and compelling characters. But it all felt so unfortunate that I didn't want to be watching. It does say something for a movie, that it can show tragic happenstance, and make me not want to watch it -- me, the guy who joyfully watches countless numbers die in disaster movies or emotionlessly watches mooks fall in action movies. I guess, I was pulled in enough that I just didn't want to see what I was seeing.  I have to admit that some parts did drag a bit but it was more the moroseness I felt, that dominated my dislike.  I think I will enjoy it more in a re-watch for the sake of an academic viewing.