(Guest review by David Greco, @WizardPressure)
I patiently waited for The Place Beyond The Pines to release ever since I first laid my eyes on that captivating trailer. Month by month my excitement and aggravation grew, and finally it was here. Other than the ridiculous fools sitting behind me talking through most of this opening night release, which whom were brought to a halt thanks to my brother’s angry girlfriend, this film grabbed my attention hard. Pines is the follow up from director Derek Cianfrance’s (Chi-an-france) eye-opening 2010 release Blue Valentine. With a decent budget /wiggle-room from producers and a whole hell of ambition, Cianfrance delivers a truly outstanding original piece of work and without a doubt one of the must watch films for 2013.
Set in Schenectady, NY (Mohawk for Pines) this uniquely developed tale follows Luke Glanton a brute stunt motorcyclist tempted with the decision to rob banks in order to provide for his son that he had no idea was born. I’m actually going to stop there with the descriptions because I really don’t want to spoil anything else and you can always read up on these things anyways. I’ve been hearing the consensus in criticism that people believe The Place Beyond The Pines is far too dense or too ambitious and should’ve been something other than a two and a half hour film. An understandable criticism but to that I simply reply you are wrong. I’ll tell you why. Pines takes a novelistic form of storytelling that many films are too scared to attempt; the ambition in this kind of form is something I find very inspiring. It is an intensely layered drama that I believe has the possibility to move people in ways recent films just haven’t shown. Be ready for this movie. It puts everything in play and questions some ideals and beliefs you might feel strongly about, i.e the corruption of those who are labelled as just and representatives of the law, the affect a father has on a son or even the reverse of that and who/what we label in society as “good” and “bad”. This movie has strong statements of fate, and how whatever you do can always sticks with you. Other then all these hard hitting aspects that are weaved within the triple headed narrative; Cianfrance delivers an incredible cinematic experience with The Place Beyond The Pines.
The performances across the board were tremendous and I’m sure this has much to do with Derek’s directing style and appreciation he has for actors. You will be treated to some of the most visually striking shots I’ve seen in forever and a remarkable score thanks to Mike Patton. I believe there is truly something remarkable here, and I think this will go down as one of the unsung best films of recent years. I will admit some acts of this film were less effective and admirable then others and when that results in ones potential appeal to this film, you can come out dissatisfied. Like I said the way in which this story is told is like something you’ve never seen onscreen and to fathom you have to have an open mind and not have these aspects negatively affect what this movie is too much. I know that’s tough to say, but this movie is something else and I’m very pleased with everything its attempted and succeeded in.