This film was nothing like what I expected it to be. Actually, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I have just heard nothing but good things about PINES and Hey Girl’s performance. I must say I really enjoyed it.
Director, Derek Cianfrance really struck a chord with BLUE VALENTINE so I was anxious to see his follow up. I became a Hey Girl fan after his brilliant performance in BLUE VALENTINE. PINES has bleak and lonely themes similar to those of BLUE VALENTINE. The movie is long (140 minutes), but it never feels slow or lacking. The film itself can be divided into three main acts. The first act develops Hey Girl’s character, the second revolves around Bradley Cooper’s character, and the third act is mainly about their respective children. I really appreciated the way the film unfolded within the three acts that spans fifteen years. It definitely envelopes the audience in the story and gives you a chance to relate to the characters.
As much as I hate to admit it, Bradley Cooper’s performance stood out the most for me. He’s really good at playing conniving, duplicitous characters. Cooper & Hey Girl’s characters are meant to polarize each other. They do an excellent job of blurring the lines of good & bad, criminal & hero. The other predominant theme in this film is fatherhood and the part the characters play in that role.
I would have never considered Eva Mendes a credible actress, but she really delivered a heartbreaking performance. Also, after seeing her in HOLY MOTORS & BAD LIEUTENANT, I get the feeling she’s into weird films too. It’s unfortunate her talent is wasted on bullshit like HITCH and THE OTHER GUYS. She’ll be staring in Hey Girl’s upcoming writing/directing debut HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER. Ray Liotta is still just as terrifying as ever. The actor who played teenage Jason also gave a great performance. I recently noticed he will be playing Harry Osborn in the latest reboot of Spiderman. I was more impressed to find out that Mike Patton did the music for PINES. I really love that he's taking on film soundtracks, but I'm still waiting on that Faith No More reunion.
I think Cianfrance is an extremely talented director who will do big things in the future. I look forward to his next film, METALHEAD, starring the band Jucifer. At times, I felt like I was watching a refreshing take on a Terrence Malick film and that’s the best compliment I can give THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES.