This is a photo taken on set, not a still from the actual movie. Gosling and Cooper are the stars of Place Beyond the Pines, however they are only on screen together for mere moments. There is something in this image I find irresistible. It’s probably the way Bradley Cooper is slouching and shrugging, with his belly sticking out as he seems to be saying, “I just really think my character would be eating a donut right now” to Ryan Gosling who is very serious.
And on that note, let’s get serious. Place Beyond the Pines is about fathers and sons.
That’s it. Really. (But I mean it in a good way!)
For a movie that is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, this may seem like a simplistic description, but that’s what it all boils down to for me, and the father-son theme is a complicated one.
The story is structured into three parts: 1. Ryan Gosling, 2. Bradley Cooper, and 3. their sons. This organization creates an interesting tension and flow– events and details build on each other into a complex web of actions and consequences, all the while asking the biblical question: must sons pay for the crimes of their fathers?
While the men are full, rich characters whose every decision effects the others, the women in Pines are inconsequential. They bare the children, try to talk sense into their men, and look very pretty when they’re sad. This usually bothers me in movies– when they focus only on the male characters and the poor women are scattered to the sidelines with hopeless pleading looks on their faces– but in Pines I feel the focus is so strongly on the powerful Father-Son theme, that I am okay with it.
The performances by Gosling and Cooper are excellent, and it’s worth it to see the movie just for that. And there is so much more that is good in this film, like the delicately beautiful cinematography and music, that there’s really no reason not to see it.
And if you didn’t like Derek Cianfrance’s last movie, Blue Valentine, don’t worry. I loathed Blue Valentine and really liked Pines. I’m planning to come back and see it again with my dad.
Place Beyond the Pines is now playing at Images Cinema through Thursday 5/9 (a two week run!). For more details and showtimes, please visit our website http://www.imagescinema.org.