I intended to see The Place Beyond The Pines upon viewing the preview for the first time. The image of Ryan Gosling speeding into the tree lined horizon of upper New York was mesmerizing. I was curious to find out what he will bring to the character. Then, mixed reviews came in. Everyone praised Gosling's performance, he never disappoints, yet most found the three part vignettes disjointed and that the movie ran too long. With the film in limited release, I wondered if it was worth venturing out to Manhattan to see it. As my enthusiasm wavered and the film descended to the bottom of my to-see queue, I came across James Franco's review in the Huffington post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-franco/ryan-gosling-place-beyond-the-pines_b_3014853.html). Franco's post about The Place Beyond The Pines is poignant, exhilarating and downright beautiful. He paints a vivid picture of Gosling (The Gos). He masterfully crafts each sentence in appraising the performance both individually and collectively. After reading the review, I too wanted to make love to the movie. Having availability this weekend, I decided to dedicate three hours to the appreciation of the Gos. With every scene, Franco's voice echoed in my head as if he was sitting right there whispering the film's narrative into my ear.
Despite being a bit long, with an over indulgent mid-section, The Place Beyond The Pines is an enjoyable experience. Having read the reviews prior to seeing the movie, I had a feed-forward on the events and the story's progression. This, however, did not diminish from the film's magnificence. Gosling evokes a magnitude of emotions. I swooned, I smiled, and I cried. Gosling's rendition of the troubled soul but good at heart Luke is so consuming, you crave him in every scene. I wonder how different Bradley Cooper's chapter would have been if Gosling was cast in the role. I was eager to see him spar with Ray Liotta. Not to fault Cooper, for it is refreshing to see him convey other sentiments rather than disdain from behind his Hangover glasses. But how can he follow Gosling's performance - no one can. In large part, this is the reason Cooper's vignette seems over drawn. However, Cooper was successful in getting the audience to dislike Avery despite sympathizing with his character.
The Place Beyond The Pines plays like an inverted sandwich, with the dull stale slice of bread encased between two meat patties. The last portion of the movie is a powerful bookend to Gosling's chapter, bringing together the fate of our antagonistic protagonists. The film's major premises, as Franco so eloquently states, is a Shakespearean Sins of our Fathers. It begs the question, are we destined to follow in the footsteps of our fathers regardless how much or how little influence they had in our lives? As if our destiny is preordained by our genes not our actions. The movie also touches on the dichotomy of good and bad, more of the contrast between what society, and perhaps the viewer, deems as good or bad and the intentions of individuals. We often set out to do good, but in a bad way with the notion of the ends justify the means. However, when is this conflict accepted both publicly and privately. This brings us to another theme, conforming to society. The more we conform and assimilate with the masses, the more forgiving people will be of our sins. As opposed to loner stoners who do what they want as they deem appropriate. Society more readily judges and prosecutes their sins because they are viewed as renegades and outsiders. The Place Beyond The Pines raises the question, which of our two antagonistic heroes will die with a clear conscience.
After reading Franco's post, I was hesitant to publish this review. My writing could never so articulate my sentiment in such a profound manner as Franco's review. Whenever I try to wean myself off this Franco crush, he does something so admiral that elevates him to new heights, so admiral that he would serenade the performance of a fellow actor and pine for the Gos! If The Place Beyond The Pines is not on your must-see list, may I suggest that you read Franco's review and then decide. I guarantee that you'll speed out the door in search for a showing upon reaching the last words - Burn Hard Baby!