Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012 Toronto International Film Festival: A Place Beyond the Pines

Overall, the reviews have been mostly positive, although there are some negative ones that stand out simply because they make me think that it would not be something that does well with the public. I thought that Blue Valentine was well-acted, but had some missing holes in its overall narrative, and was a little too heavy handed and slowpaced, which I tend to blame on writer/director Derek Cianfrance. I hope this one, with its action based theme will be a little more exciting to back up what are apparently good performances. Here is a variety sampling of the type of reviews it has been getting:

Eric Kohn at Indiewire was enthusiastic about the film:
"Derek Cianfrance's sophomore feature "Blue Valentine" was a tender actors' showcase that played loose with its timeline to explore the ups and down of a relationship. The director's latest effort, "The Place Beyond the Pines," contains a far more ambitious structure that covers four overlapping character arcs over the course of 15 years. That the movie succeeds both as a high-stakes crime thriller as well as a far quieter and empathetic study of angry, solitary men proves that Cianfrance has a penchant for bold storytelling and an eye for performances to carry it through. With "Pines," the gamble pays off."
Henry Barnes at The Guardian (UK) was mixed, especially with the second half:
"The Place Beyond the Pines is ambitious and epic, perhaps to a fault. It's a long, slow watch in the final act, a detour into the next generation that sees the sons of Luke and Avery pick away at their daddy issues together. Cianfrance signposts the ripple effects of crime with giant motorway billboards, then pootles along, following a storyline that drops off Mendes and Byrne before winding on to its obvious conclusion. The remarkable opening, featuring a tracking shot through the flashing lights of the fair right into the Cage of Death, seems a very long way away. Perhaps Gosling as raving psycho was too much to sustain for the full trip, but it's a shame that this putters out so abruptly. The Place Beyond the Pines needed a foot on the gas, instead there's sugar in the tank."

Jeffrey Wells from Hollywood Elsewhere was one of those that simply didn't like it:

"Except for the bank-robbing and road-chase sequences I didn't believe a single moment in this film. I couldn't buy any of it. Okay, I bought some of it but only in fits and starts. You can't have Gosling play a simple-dick man of few words who entertains audiences with his talent as a motorcycle rider and then turns to bank-robbing on the side -- that's way too close to his stunt-driving, getaway-car character in Drive."

So basically, I think its Oscar chances come down to its acting. From the positive reviews and even the mixed ones, Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan and Ben Mendelsohn are all very good, which I expected, and could be in serious Oscar contention. The film as a whole may not be up the Academy's alley. We'll have to wait and see.

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