Truth be said, I can’t stomach happy endings much. If a film is sold on the premise that its portraying true stories or even fictional but real-life scenarios, it can’t force-feed me a Disneyesque ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ This is one of the main faults I find with a number of Hollywood dramas which, I might still appreciate for a number of other reasons.
When I discover ‘Hollywood’ films like Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Blue Valentine (2010) for the first time, I eagerly return to them at least once more in order to savour the fact that big budget films can still be brutally honest in their portrayals of relationships. But we won’t be talking about that right now, I’ll dedicate another blog specifically for happy endings (or the lack of) later on.
I greedily snatched up the cinema ticket. As I always do out of sheer habit, I asked for a seat in the ‘middle’ of the theatre. Many times, the cashiers nod nonchalantly without caring to explain that they had already punched my ticket and that I had to do with whatever seat number was printed. Fortunately for me, this time, it was a week day at Galleria, so I could very well have been at home. So I sat in the bloody middle seat.
Downside was, there was no one to share the experience with.
I found myself immersed from the opening follow-shot until the credits appeared. Now I’m gonna try not to give anything juicy away for the benefit of you who have not yet watched The Place Beyond the Pines.
It’s an unconventional film. Watching it was like reading a Puzo novel, or perhaps closer to truth, watching a summarised version of the Godfather trilogy. I find myself unable to resist stories which lovingly tackle complicated themes of multi-generational families. Nothing better than a good epic. There are, of course, epic films where I was begging for the credits to roll… (I’m looking at you, The Good Shepherd (2006). Watching that film was one of the most daunting experiences of my life – perhaps comparable only to the time I tried to watch Camillo Teti’s abysmal Titanic: The Legend Goes On… (2000) )
I found The Place Beyond the Pines to be anything but dragging. Even though it is longer than the typical 1hr30min feature film, after the first 15 minutes I had completely surrendered myself to wherever Derek Cianfrance wanted to take me. And when it was over I remained glued to my seat.
I only have one gripe with the film and this is regarding the development of the young characters which feature in the film’s third act. The title card explains that the events in this final act happen ‘15 years later’, but what happened in those 15 years is a mystery. I could not get why one of the sons became such an asshole. Another mystery is the secret to Bradley Cooper’s uncanny ability to apparently stay forever young.
Every film has it’s flaws, and despite all its flaws, The Place Beyond the Pines gave me a solid cinematic experience. It tells a story about fathers and sons, and all that’s inherited. And I wont blame you for watching it solely for the reason that it the latest effort from the guys who brought us Blue Valentine.
Have you watched The Place Beyond The Pines? What did you think of it? Has this review affected your opinion of it in any way? Let me know in the comments below!
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