Film Review: Pining for a Place beyond the under-cooked myths

Mrs Towers should choose the films. She whittled it down to three, and gave me final say (she likes to let me think I am in charge, it’s one of those games people play).

And I chose “The Place Beyond the Pines.”

Oh dear.

Ryan Gosling as a wash-board stomached trailer trash drifter who has a big throbbing thing between his legs (the use of, keeping of, getting of big throbbing things between legs is an enduring “theme” in this film.) Last year when the carnival he is employed by came through town he knocked up Eva Mendes (bra-less, Mrs Towers, wants me to point out).  Via an interfering woman (there are three in the film, which heartily fails the Bechdel Tests 2 and 3) – he finds this out. He chucks in the motorcycle madness and tries to usurp a decent man from his role as the baby’s father-in-all-but-biology. (Gosling’s character had no dad, he doesn’t want the cycle (har har) to continue.)

He falls in with a man who has a limp (men with limps make poor dads in this film).

He robs banks (I’m telling you nowt you won’t have seen in the trailer).

He encounters a cop who lives in the overlong shadow of his own father.

And it goes on. And on. And on.

There are parents (bureaucratic, biological etc) who fail to act as adults.

There are children who try to act as parents.

There are one or two adults in the film, at various points. For all the good it does them. They decline to let children/parents be adults. (See my unpublished review of “Django Unchained” for more about this handshake-denied thing).

And it goes on. And on. Beautifully shot. Reasonably acted. And it goes on. And on.

Parents die. “Parents” (i.e. cops/guardians) turn out to be corrupt. Children turn out to be dicks (who knew?).

Some struggle to stay where they are, lizard-like, hooded eyes and licking their lips, blustering and dishing out what people want (to hear). Others do that American thing, all “Good Will Hunting” and light out for the territory.

You can come at it Freudian.

You can try some transactional analysis analysis.

You can even try the old hit’n’myth.

But it all ends up with 2 hours and twenty minutes that you’ll never get back, and feels like at least three hours.


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One Response to Film Review: Pining for a Place beyond the under-cooked myths

  1. Sarah Irving says:

    Only three? Felt like a lifetime to me. Portenteous, pretentious, over-long, overweight, self-obsessed, ‘meaningful’, Boys Own navel-gazing. The kind of ‘crisis of masculinity’ ponderousness to which the only sane reply is ‘ah, diddums, is we sad coz we several millennia of privilege are in collapse? Coochy-coo and here’s a hanky”. I think it also tried to make some kind of ‘deep’ comment on how power/privilege always replicates itself and the powerless always get trodden down, generation after generation, but I may have dropped off somewhere round then.

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