Written By: Jenn-Anne Gledhill
Before watching “The Place Beyond the Pines,” I saw the trailer for the Ron Howard film, “Rush.” And in it, I was shown all the major plot points all the way up to the fourth act. It baffles me when trailers do that. When I know what’s coming, I’m all antsy-bored until I get past “been there, seen that.”
I say this because, as it turns out, the trailer for “The Place Beyond the Pines,” gave away almost nothing about this story. In fact, I could even make a case that the trailer kind of misled me. But it was a delicious feeling to be brought around turn after unexpected turn in this film.
So how do I review something without giving away any of the same secrets that were held from me? With a list, of course!
- Top ten things you need to know from me about “The Land Beyond the Pines.”The title comes from the meaning of the word “Schenectady,” the name of the town. This might not the best title for this film. Because of that title, for two full seconds I erroneously thought things might turn supernatural.
- Ryan Gosling was made to be a movie star.
- The entire film is shot to look a little like those “flashback” sequences in crime dramas.
- Get ready for a lot of extreme close ups. No, I mean it. A LOT.
- This story is ambitious.
- This story might be ambitious to a fault. Leaving the theater, I Googled to see if maybe it was an adaptation of a book. It felt like it was trying to capture pages of prose with camera work and long, heavy pauses in the dialogue.
- There are three story lines in this film, and Luke’s story line is the most engaging. The rest of the characters never catch up with Luke’s heart. I felt most invested in his story, and understood completely his soul’s trajectory from the inside out.
- I forget what 8 was for. (Sorry. I promise I will never do that again…)
- I didn’t sense any Cat Saving or screenwriting structure software behind this. It was too big. I’m sure someone could prove me wrong, but it just felt more like a novel than a standard, three act screenplay.
- I am not sure I learned anything about myself in this film, no more than I would after an episode of CSI. It ran a little long for my tastes, but was a satisfying experience. Oh, and there’s this: after being in an MFA program for a year and a half, for the first time ever, I can now pull a quote from a book to describe the essence of this film. It is from “Hippies,” by Denis Johnson: “Thirty years go by, and the moved we made just keep bringing this old stuff rolling over us.”