Quentin: We’re dividing this review into three parts.
Jason: The first part is spoiler free. And if you ask me, that’s the best way to see The Place Beyond the Pines. The less you know, the more you’ll like it.
Jake: The second part has no spoilers and avoids the entire last part of the movie. If you want to know a little more, but don’t want to have any major twists revealed, read this at your own risk.
Quentin: The last section is intended only for people who have seen the movie, or who have no intention of seeing the movie.
Jake: Or who want to know everything.
Jason: Do those people exist?
Jake: I’ve heard they do.
Jason: Do those people exist?
Jake: I’ve heard they do.
Quentin: So the general consensus is positive?
Jake: It is from me. Jason?
Jason: Yes, even though it lacks the emotional resonance to make it a truly great film.
Jake: Not every movie has to be about emotional resonance.
Jason: I know that, but it pretended to have sweep without ever sweeping me away.
Quentin: I don’t think it pretended to have sweep at all.
Jason: This is the same guy who directed Blue Valentine, which had a stronger emotional core. That’s all I’m saying. But this is a very accomplished film. The degree of difficulty over Blue Valentine is substantial.
Jake: Thank you. It’s a major step forward for Derek Cianfrance. The canvas is ten times larger. Like Blue Valentine, he’s reaching for emotional truth without sentimentality.
Jason: I guess I like a little bit of sentimentality when it comes to a movie about fathers and sons.
Quentin: And karma.
Jason: Generational karma.
Quentin: The sins of the father.
Jake: That could easily be the subtitle.
Quentin: One thing about Cianfrance: he knows how to work with actors.
Jason: Great performances here from Gosling and Cooper.
Jake: Especially Cooper. He was the real standout for me.
Quentin: I agree.
Jason: Gosling’s constant cigarette smoking bothered me.
Quentin: Why? It totally fit the character.
Jason: I don’t care. Every moment of every scene he has that damn cigarette dangling from his lips. When I’m watching a cigarette more than I’m watching Ryan Gosling, there’s a problem.
Quentin: Who cares? The camera loves him.
Jake: It does. You can read everything on his face. He has that thing that cannot be taught. He’s a movie star.
Quentin: If you love good cinema, we strongly recommend you go see this movie and then come back and read the rest of our review. But now we have a few semi-spoilery bits.
Jason: My favorite part of this movie was that I had no idea where it was going next. I found myself constantly guessing and constantly wrong.
Jake: I loved the unconventional structure.
Quentin: Didn’t you think it seemed more like three short films?
Jake: That’s what I loved about it. It was three interconnected short films. And by interconnected, I don’t mean intercut. Cianfrance tells one story with Gosling, one story with Cooper, and then a third story we’ll discuss in a sec. Gosling and Cooper maybe share two seconds of screen time together, as Gosling’s story ends and Cooper’s begins.
Quentin: That was a huge disappointment for me. I really wanted to see them work together.
Jason: Me too. At that point, though, I thought it was going to be two films, and I was trying to guess the trajectory of the narrative. I was worried when Ray Liotta showed up.
Jake: That was the one misstep, in my opinion.
Quentin: Liotta has become a caricature of himself. The whole police corruption storyline felt like a cliché.
Jason: That’s why I was worried. His character was so creepy. I thought he would overwhelm the second half of the film.
Quentin: But he didn’t, which brings us to the real spoilers. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the movie. But for those of you who have, here are our thoughts, because frankly we can't help ourselves. Some movies deserve to be talked about, not just reviewed.
Jason: The third story is what makes the movie sing.
Jake: Absolutely. The first story is about Gosling and his one-year-old son, and the second story is about Cooper and his one-year-old son. Then the movie jumps forward 15 years.
Jason: Quentin, I heard you gasp.
Quentin: I thought two turns into left field were one too many. I was wrong.
Jason: When did you figure out the kid Cooper’s son was talking to was Gosling’s son?
Jake: The minute he sat down in the cafeteria.
Quentin: Really? I didn’t get it until later, when he was talking about his step-father.
Jake: I knew the moment I saw Cooper’s son at the funeral. I said, “Well, the other son has to be out there somewhere.”
Quentin: Let’s talk about Dane DeHaan.
Jason: Quite possibly the next Leonardo DiCaprio.
Jake: The resemblance is amazing.
Quentin: When he was on screen, I was like, “Gosling who? Cooper who?” This kid can act.
Jake: He’s 27. Didn’t you see Chronicle?
Quentin: No, I passed on it when it first came out, but now I want to see it just because of him.
Jason: The whole movie worked because of his performance.
Jake: Do you know who that was playing A.J., Cooper’s son?
Jason: No. Who?
Jake: Emory Cohen. He was Debra Messing’s son on Smash.
Jason: Wow. I didn’t even recognize him. That really shows you what good material can do for an actor’s career.
Quentin: Once the movie skipped forward 15 years, everything fell into place and started to make sense for me. I could see how Cianfrance was going to tie the narrative together. I loved his subtle hand with setup and payoff.
Jake: Like the ice cream.
Quentin: Yes, an excellent example.
Jake: And I loved the way the end of the movie was about beginnings. After Blue Valentine, I was expecting the ending to be pretty bleak.
Quentin: There is one thing I don’t understand. Where did the title come from?
Jake: I looked it up. The movie is set in Schenectady, New York. And Schenectady is the Mohawk word for “place beyond the pines.”
Quentin: How was I supposed to know that?
Jake: Wikipedia, dude.