(Originally posted May 7th, 2013 at 3 Guys 1 Movie)
So I'm sitting here thinking of a movie to review for this site when suddenly it hits me: What better movie to review for 3 Guys 1 Movie than one that is itself 1 movie split into 3 very distinct parts? And so with that, let's take a look at The Place Beyond the Pines.
This is a story about having to deal with the decisions we make, for better or worse, and how those decisions can continue to effect the lives of those around us for generations to come. And it's very interesting seeing how the stories begin to parallel each other in ways, almost as if these actions were all an inescapable fate. The movie is slickly shot with long takes and incredible performances that really ground you into their world. And while each segment might not be perfect, this is a movie that highlights the imperfections of people who are just trying to do good, so in that sense, it actually kinda works.
As I said, the movie is split into three different sections that focus on different characters. First, we start off with Ryan Gosling's story and follow along solely from his point of view until Bradley Cooper's character becomes involved, in which case we then shift over to his point of view and watch as his story plays out. We then finish things up by jumping ahead a few years for the final segment of the movie. It's an interesting way to play out the story, and I actually liked it overall for the most part, though there are moments where the film feels a bit disjointed due to this narrative format.
So first, let's start with Ryan Gosling's story. Basically, he's a motorcycle stuntman in a traveling circus who, upon returning to town, learns that an old fling of his had recently given birth to his child. Upon learning this, Gosling quits his job in order to stick around and try and provide for the kid, but it's not too long before desperation sets in and he finds himself turning to a career of bank robbery. This first segment is by far the strongest of the three, and starts this movie off on a very powerful note. And Gosling delivers the kind of performance we've come to expect from him, giving a very raw and real feel to the movie.
We're also treated to some truly awesome chase scenes during this section. We've been getting some especially good car chases in certain movies as of late, such as Drive and Jack Reacher, and the chases here definitely reach that level of quality. It's really thrilling stuff, made especially so by the clarity on display that makes you feel the rush, like you're right there in the middle of the action yourself.
The next segment focuses on Bradley Cooper, who plays a cop who finds himself straddling the legal lines as well after he becomes involved with the case against Ryan Gosling. Where I'd say that Gosling's segment had a more thrilling feel to it, Cooper's dials things down to a more somber level. Things get a lot more tense, and Cooper adds an emotional depth with his phenomenal performance. Seriously, good as he was in Silver Linings Playbook, he absolutely kills it in this role. He's just able to convey so much of his struggle to us at times without even saying a word, which really impressed the hell out of me.
We then jump ahead in time for the third and final segment, which is pretty much the result of both Gosling's and Cooper's actions in the prior two. However, this segment also happens to be the weakest of the three. It's definitely the most choppy feeling, as it changes point of view a few times before finally settling in, where as the first two segments were clearly locked onto their main stars from the get-go. And while the actors here did a good enough job in their roles, I never found myself really attaching to or caring all that much about these new characters. And the mood of this segment also has a bit of an immature feel to it in comparison, though considering the shift in focus to a much younger cast, I suppose that's appropriate. Yet, that said, while I wouldn't necessarily call this segment bad, it doesn't maintain the level of quality that had been established up to this point, and so it ends the movie on somewhat of a deflated note as a result, which is a bit of a shame.
I would say the movie's biggest issue, though, would have to be its running time. At about two and a half hours in length, this is a long movie, and it's one where you definitely feel it. And the fact that each subsequent segment of the movie decreases in quality just that much from the one preceding it certainly doesn't help matters, either. And yet, despite its long length, the performances here are all so enthralling that they keep you engaged all throughout, and at no point in time does the movie ever actually feel boring.
But, as I said before, the imperfections almost work in this movie's favor, given the themes involved. Sure, it could have definitely been tightened up, but even as is, despite its inconsistent quality and overly long length, this is still a really good movie worth checking out, highlighted by some seriously great performances. So don't make the mistake of missing out on this flick, 'cause who knows whose life that'll effect as a result!