The Place Beyond the Pines (Cianfrance, 2012)
This review contains heavy spoilers.
Blue dusks lit by ambient carnival lights, lush greens of claustrophobic forests, light browns of dry hazy infinitely stretching dirt roads – a multitude of gorgeous settings for a multitude of people and their intertwined lives. A picture is painted intimately of two completely different paths, both leading to the same exact conclusion – blood runs deep. Cianfrance does a fantastic job with the dangerous intertwining lives storytelling technique. The key is the way each story doesn’t even begin until the previous one ends. Less than an hour through when Gosling’s characters dies (after giving a fantastic performance and drawing me in like I couldn’t believe) at the hand of Bradley Cooper’s police officer character, the feeling of grief comes not only from the loss of a human being, but from the loss of where the story is going. From there Cooper deals with guilt and his place in the world. And it isn’t until the film jumps ahead 15 years and we see the baby Gosling never got to see grow old as a teen, interacting with Cooper’s son, that it all really feels whole. The two boys spend a brief amount of time as friends/acquaintances, but their relationship isn’t an attempt to redeem their older generations’ actions; it’s about the two adolescents as individuals, and how both where and who they are from molds each of them. It’s a heartbreaking but genuine examination of circumstance, human nature, and desire’s role in shaping a person. 8.75/10