Saturday, April 27, 2013

Movie Review - Place Beyond the Pines

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The Place Beyond the Pines is a mid-range indie movie in the sense that it had some good actors though limited cinema release. The movie was essentially three movies in one; the first part was about Luke (played by Ryan Gosling), a stunt performer at a travelling circus who finds that he has fathered a son. This discovery radically alters his life's trajectory, turning him from vagrant to criminal, and it ultimately sets him up for a dramatic encounter with Avery, a young police officer who tries to capture him when he tries to evade arrest after a robbery gone horribly wrong.

The second part of the movie centers around Avery, and how he deals with the fallout of the encounter with Luke, while the last part fast-forwards to fifteen years after the second part, and the focus this time is on the children of Luke and Avery, who start up an unbalanced friendship, not knowing anything about the history between their fathers.

Atala's Review - I had heard quite a few good things about this movie before it came out, so I was quite looking forward to watching. However, I wasn't sure whether it would be shown in the cinemas in our area, because it was billed as kind of 'indie', and we don't usually get those shown. But the Movie God must have been smiling on me, because it just so happened that it was showing at our local cinema.

I found the first part of the movie the most touching and engaging. Sure, Luke goes off the rails and embarks on a life of crime (not that there was far to go, since he already lived life on the margins). But at his heart, he is driven to do this by a desire to become more of a father to the son he didn't know he had; it's as though seeing his son has made him realise how important it is to be a father.

He is made more desperate by the fact that the mother of his son has a new boyfriend, and he probably realises that his son could end up regarding this man, not him, as his father. So despite everything, I found myself wanting Luke to survive the dangers of his chosen profession so that he could be the father he wanted to be to his child.

The second part of the movie was also interesting in its own way. I liked how the film showed the theme of conflict; we have a morally ambiguous Avery who, on the one hand, is reluctant to accept the benefits resulting from his encounter with Luke (some of which are entirely undeserved), but who on the other hand isn't rejecting them outright. In the end, thought, he does the right thing, although the manner in which he does this makes me wonder more about the direction of his moral compass.

I won't speak much about the last part of the film, because what story there was in it was clumsily stitched together, making it almost entirely unnecessary to the film as awhole. There is a scene where the Jason, the sone of Luke meets with Avery and confronts him about the encounter with is father, but that's as interesting as it goes.

Myne's review - Atala brought this movie to my attention and with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in the movie, it didn't take much to convince me. No, no... it wasn't because they're eye candy, which they are mind you, but I know them to be very good actors too, Bradley Cooper just came from the Oscars after all.

So though I'm not a big fan of seeing indie movies at the cinema, I knew this one must be exceptional to get those guys. I have to say I was very impressed by this movie. It dwelt strongly on the theme of fatherhood and what that could mean to different kinds of men.

For Luke, an unplanned pregnancy results in a child whom he finds by happenstance. Just meeting, carrying and looking into the eyes of his son was enough to change the entire identity of who he was. He became a FATHER and that was very important even to someone as rootless as he was, maybe even more so.

For Avery, police man, married, settled, and himself the son of a supreme court judge, there is a lot of expectation when he has a son. But it is somehow marred by the circumstance of being in the line of a criminal's fire and killing the other person rather than be killed. It doesn't make it easier on him when he finds that the dead criminal was a father too.

Pulled in all directions, by his father, his wife, and his fellow police officers, Avery has to make some tough choices for his future and that of his son. Fifteen years later, the story comes full circle when the two sons meet each other. They both have to make peace with themselves, each other, and the sons of who they are.

Atala's score - If the last part weren't there, I'd have rated this film much higher; but it's a testament to how good the film was that I still give it 3.5 out of 5.

Myne's score - I give this film a 4 out of 5, it is a pretty solid film.

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