Derek Cianfrance follows up his much heralded small indie drama Blue Valentine with an epic one in The Place Beyond the Pines once again teaming up with Mr morose himself Ryan Gosling.
This could best be described as a flawed masterpiece, at times the filmmaking hits levels of genius and can rightly draw comparison to the works of Robert Altman, unfortunately we cannot say this about the entire film. 95 percent of all movies follow a three act structure and these generally blend together in a way that it goes unnoticed, but with Pines this is easy to detect as we effectively have three separate related stories layered one after the other. This is nothing new within the realms of powerhouse drama, take Amores Perros and Babel for example, the issue here is that the third act seems too detached from acts I and II, not in terms of artistic style or pacing but in relation to the screenplay itself.
Acts I and II flow effortlessly, at no point do you feel that you are watching a scripted movie, everything appears natural and very very real. The third act feels contrived, feels like a screenplay, for the first time you are conscious of this being written fiction. I have to tell you that this left me very frustrated as the first hour and a half rank this up into film of the year territory.
The entire cast are superb, I was especially impressed with Bradley Cooper, 2012 has been a stellar year for this actor when you consider his Oscar nod for Silver Linings Playbook. The movie looks gorgeous too and is so well shot and framed by cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, the opening 2 minute tracking shot is glorious and some of the chase scenes are wonderfully staged and feel very real. Ryan Gosling is getting typecast in this kind of role but I can't deny that his presence when on screen is electric, at times you can't take your eyes off him. Speaking of typecast Dane DeHaan once again plays the "troubled teen" following his roles in Chronicle and Lawless and Ray Liotta is never wasted.
I have to say that I believe the vast majority of this movie to be superb, almost faultless, yes its that good, but you can't help feeling by the end that you've just witnessed greatness slowly slip away. Gutted.
Bravura film making, intelligent, thought provoking, well acted and thoroughly engrossing, just ultimately flawed.
Universal have granted this movie an MPEG-4 AVC encoded, 2.40:1 framed, 1080p transfer onto a 50GB Blu-ray disc of great quality.
The natural and gritty nature of the films cinematography is captured perfectly on this disc and almost every aspect is a resounding A plus. Colouring and contrast are exceptional with many moments left to natural lighting. Skin tones appear accurate and lifelike. Everything is saturated nicely.
Detail and sharpness are also excellent with crisp edges and striking close ups. The blacks and darks are inky and deep with solid delineation. We are met with a few moments of crush but this is more likely attributable to the source elements and photography rather than any transfer issues.
I did not detect any compression artefacts or digital anomalies. The films grain structure has not been subjected to lashings of DNR but what does remain is ultra fine and unobtrusive.
This is a very faithful transfer from Universal which captures the intended look of the movie perfectly. This is an extremely filmic presentation which on the whole is very good indeed.
Film 5/5 Transfer 4/5
Despite my annoyances had to give it 5 stars, there is far too much quality on display not to!