Grade A

The lives of two men, a bank robber and a cop (played by Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, respectively), will violently collide and alter their lives and of those near to them.   Gosling and Cooper both have sons who are one-year-old when the fateful day happens; and the sins of the fathers will come back to haunt their sons 15 years later.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Place Beyond The Pines” is the scene when Cooper is pulled over by a fellow cop, played by Ray Liotta.  Cooper has snitched on some cops, you see, and one of those cops is Liotta.  Liotta, known for his intense, fearsome stares, has not lost his touch, as evidenced by this scene.

“The Place Beyond The Pines” is an odd duck because it doesn’t follow the typical 3 act structure of virtually all movies.  It feels like 2 acts followed by 3 acts.  Let me explain.  The first 1/3 of the movie is Gosling’s story, then the last 2/3 of the movie is Cooper’s story as well as the two sons of Gosling and Cooper.  Basically, at the 50 minute mark, it’s like watching another movie…a sequel to the first 1/3 of the movie, if you will.  We get this huge build up, and then the movie flatlines as we are introduced to a whole new set of characters.   Surprisingly, this does not harm the movie overall.  Why?  Because almost everything else works like magic.

Two little shenanigans though that I can’t let go: 1) Cooper’s son is a problem teen, and Cooper doesn’t implement any kind of measures to keep his teen from having an out of control party while Cooper is away; 2) a character buys a motorcycle in cash, and immediately rides off…no license, no registration, no plates, no insurance…how far does this guy think he can go before he sees flashing blue and red lights behind him?

“The Place Beyond The Pines” is like a slow burning, dramatic mini-series that takes its time to develop the story and characters.  At some point, you, the audience, gets hooked; and you just have to watch it all the way to the end.  That’s a good thing, because this movie is one hell of story.

— M