I saw “The Place Beyond the Pines” and walked outta the theater thinking: “That was the best movie I’ve seen this year.”
I don’t want to give too much away, so here are some spoiler-free bullet points.
- Ryan Gosling is easily one of those actors whose work I will see. Every. Time. He gives a hard-hitting performance (as usual), and even though his character, Luke, is robbing banks to support his family in this film, you’re rooting for his character whole-heartedly. (A testament to the writing and acting.)
- Eva Mendes plays Gosling’s baby mama, who’s trying to get her life together. Even in stonewash, she’s absolutely luminous, but it’s her performance that stays with you. I haven’t seen her act this solidly, nuanced and subtle, maybe ever. I think she’s arrived.
- Bradley Cooper exudes a likability even when he’s playing a jerky jerk, but that didn’t hold true for me in ‘The Pines’. He’s a mega-ambitious rookie cop, who’s “too smart for his own good.” For lack of a better explanation, I was mad at him throughout most of his storyline. (The film’s made up of three interwoven stories.)
- I was really taken with Ben Mendelsohn’s character, Robin, who talks Luke into robbing banks. This is the first film I’ve seen with Mendelsohn, and he rocked. In one scene, he runs through a field of geese and retains a childlike enthusiasm even with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. #Talent This scene is a key to his character. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he’s good on the inside. (Yeah, the bank robbing thing, but see it to believe it.)
The characters in “The Place Beyond the Pines” are flawed and sometimes morally ambiguous: a perfect combo for this engaging character study.
Check out this week’s episode of Screen Time, where movie columnist Tim Albrecht and I talk shop. http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/262032/group/Accent/