The Place Beyond the Pines

Ryan Gosling in "The Place Beyond the Pines."

Ryan Gosling in “The Place Beyond the Pines.”

“The Place Beyond the Pines” is one of the best movies I have seen this year.  The proper way to see this movie is the way in which I saw it, which was to go in cold, not knowing anything upfront.  While the argument could be made that this is the best way to see any movie, it is especially true in this case.  That being said, this makes my job, as film critic, a bit tricky.

In my film writing I do not give away important story details, commonly referred to as “spoilers.” This is the difference between writing a film critique and writing a film review.  Although these two terms are generally used interchangeably, a review tells the reader what the movie is about.  A critique, on the other hand, explains why the particular movie under consideration is worthwhile or not.  So, how to critique “The Place Beyond the Pines” without giving away the film?  The answer, hopefully, lies in what follows.

What impressed me about “The Place Beyond the Pines,” and what made it such a riveting movie, is that, for much of the story, I did not know where it was going.  As a film teacher and film industry professional, I know about story structure. Even with the best of movies I usually have  at least a sense of where things are headed.  This was not the case with “The Place Beyond the Pines.”  The story is constructed in such a unique manner that it kept me off balance and, as a result, I found myself riveted and very interested in its characters.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” has been directed and co-written by Derek Cianfrance, who also directed and co-wrote the very well done film “Blue Valentine” (2010).  As in “Blue Valentine,” Cianfrance seems to have given his actors free reign in interpreting their roles.  The result is a very natural give and take between the movie’s characters not often seen in current films.

As in “Blue Valentine,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” features Ryan Gosling, but in an interesting reversal of his role in “Blue Valentine.” In “Blue Valentine” Gosling played a man raising a child that his wife had with another man.  In “The Place Beyond the Pines” Gosling plays a biological father who wants to take part in his child’s life.  The complication is that the mother is with another man who has taken on the role of the child’s father.  Gosling’s character lacks the proper level of diplomacy to handle such a situation properly, to put it mildly.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” features a fine cast which, in addition to Gosling, includes Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta and Harris Yullin.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” is a movie with authentic characters in a story about choices, deceptions, ethics, fathers and sons.   It is intelligent, thought provoking filmmaking.

“The Place Beyond the Pines” is playing locally at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 East Houston Street.

The Place Beyond the Pines, Director Derek Cianfrance, 2013, Focus Features, 140 minutes, rated R

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on April 1, 2013, in New and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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