Why did I watch it?
I'll admit it, I was drawn to this film by the Drive factor of the trailer. Ryan Gosling playing what looked to be a simplistic small-time bank robber, making his getaways using his 'unique set' of skills, being a brilliant motorcycle rider, seemed to be echoing many of the best traits of Nicolas Winding Refn's film.
What's it all about?
Set in Schenectady, N.Y (meaning 'the place beyond the pines' in Mohawk), the film transpires to be much more than the trailer advertises. Three chronologically told stories, dominated by relationships between fathers and sons, weave together the lives of two families inseparably across two generations. Gosling plays travelling motorcycle stuntman Handsome Luke, who after returning to Schenectady, learns he is a father following a fling with Romina (Eva Mendes) the previous year. By chance his path collides with ambitious police officer Avery Moss (Bradley Cooper), himself father to a one year son.
Should you watch it?
Director Derek Cianfrance's film links together three separate, yet interlinked, stories of two families in a manner that is certainly not without risk. Roughly a third of the film's two hour plus running time each, the shift in narrative and characters, certainly from the first to second, is so sudden that it caused the film to lose all momentum on two occasions. Being led, deliberately no doubt, in one direction by the trailer, I found myself checking my watch after 50 minutes, so sudden is the shift in story. Second time around was less of a shock, as I began to appreciate what Cianfrance was trying to achieve. However, given the fragmented nature of the narrative, being asked to invest in three stories, each slightly less enjoyable than the previous, totalling two hours plus is stretching the capacity of the audience.
That's the negatives out of the way.
|If you ride like lightning, you're going to crash like thunder|
Going back to the visuals, the film looks stunning, with some excellent vistas and use of colours, interspersed amongst the scenes of bikes racing through streets and forests and personal nature of close-up shots during more intimate scenes.
Certainly different to what I was expecting when I took my seat, Cianfrance took some risks with the plot and didn't win them all but The Place Beyond The Pines is nonetheless a strong film anchored by an excellent cast, superb visuals and strong script.