Director: Derek Cianfrance
Music By: Mike Patton. That’s right – of Faith No More! Cool. Noticed his name in the credits and wanted to make sure to mention him – love Faith No More. And… Anyone remember Mr Bungle?? Ha!
I’m not sure if I should go into the plot much. The way they are marketing this film, by only really focusing on Ryan Gosling, is a bit misleading. Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stuntman. While in town with a travelling fair he works for, he sees an ex-lover of his (Romina, played by Eva Mendes). Luke learns that Romina’s one-year-old son is his. Luke decides to stay in town and help to raise his son even though Romina has moved on & is with another man. He gets a job at an auto repair shop but, when that doesn’t earn him enough money to help his son, he turns to robbing banks. Luke soon becomes addicted to this “easy” way of getting money.
This is all pretty much everything I read about before seeing the film. But there’s MUCH more to the movie than just this one story about Luke. So don’t go to it expecting the entire movie to just be about Ryan Gosling going on a bank-robbing spree. The movie is better than just that.
I really enjoyed this movie. My hubby didn’t so much. He thinks it’s because I have the hots for Gosling but I don’t think that has anything to do with it. He’s still hot, even with some really ugly tattoos and a Metallica t-shirt, but he certainly doesn’t do it for me as much in this film as in others. And he’s good in this, as always, but he doesn’t steal the whole show. His character isn’t quite as strong as in other films – he was much deeper in things like Lars And The Real Girl & Half Nelson and he was “cooler” and more mysterious in Drive. The director, Derek Cianfrance, also did Blue Valentine. I still haven’t fully decided if I prefer that or Pines but I do think Gosling’s character was more well-developed in Valentine & he delivered a better performance. But, overall, Pines is probably a more “entertaining” film with a better story as opposed to Valentine which is more about the performances than the story.
If you love Drive, you MIGHT like Pines but don’t go to it expecting it to be anything like it. It’s very different. There was a bit of a hoodie at our screening – he did stay for the whole thing but he & his woman kept talking to each other about being bored. This is where I always get a bit snobby and say things like “people need to find a little something out about a movie before going to it!” but to be fair, although I knew what kind of movie it was as I’m a movie lover & do my research, I do think they’re making this movie look a little too much like another Drive. As to be expected as it’s the same director, it’s much more like Blue Valentine. It’s a drama. It has a slow pace. It IS a little overlong (as much as I enjoyed it I did feel it could have been cut down by half an hour). It’s my kind of thing, though. It’s not going to be for everyone.
As for the stories (as I said, there’s more to it than just the story of Luke and this has been hinted at in enough reviews that I don’t think I’m spoiling anything), they were all good but I especially liked the first one & the final one. The final one was a complete surprise as I knew nothing at all about that one before seeing the film. I think I felt the most for the characters in the final bit & found my heart pounding a little when there were a couple of times where you really didn’t know what was going to happen to them. I thought all the characters in the whole film felt realistic as well – these seemed like real people because I thought they acted in ways that real-life people in the same situations may behave (not as common in movies as it should be!). As it’s marketed in that Drive kind of way, I thought it would be really violent. It’s not. There were a few times where I thought it might suddenly get crazy-Drive-level-violent but it thankfully didn’t. Not saying I don’t like Drive – I love it. But this film didn’t feel the need to up the violence or the action or to start acting all “cool”. It kept things slow & steady but it still had me on the edge of my seat at the end in a similar way to how I felt while watching American History X. Not sure why this comparison popped into my head while watching Pines – I think the tension I felt toward the end was quite similar (although American History X is definitely a better film).
A quick mention of the performances: As I said, Gosling is good as always but it’s not his strongest role. Eva Mendes is good as is Mahershala Ali, who plays her boyfriend. I liked the character Ben Mendelsohn plays – the owner of the body shop where Gosling works. Ray Liotta is… sooooo Ray Liotta! So, you’ll be happy if you like Ray Liotta but I found it quite disappointing that he’s playing the same role here that he ALWAYS plays. In fact, that’s probably the thing I liked least about this film. Dane DeHaan also plays a very similar character to one he’s played before but he’s very good at that sort of role and I thought he was very good in this – he’s possibly one of the best things about this movie, actually. For me the most pleasant surprise was probably Bradley Cooper, though. He plays a rookie cop. This is also widely known about the plot (if there’s a bank robber there has to be a cop!) but they REALLY don’t focus much on him in the trailers & things I’d seen beforehand. It’s a big role! Honestly, the only thing I’d really seen him in was The Hangover so, naturally, I wasn’t overly impressed with him. (The Hangover isn’t really my type of thing). But then he was suddenly up for an Oscar! (I really do want to see Silver Linings Playbook). So, yeah – turns out he can act. I thought he was good as the rookie cop who’s a bit unsure of himself.
Summary: I liked this a lot but it’s not for everyone. It’s a slow-paced drama with some very good performances but not any really amazing ones. It’s a little overlong but has a good sense of growing tension, especially at the end, which kept me very gripped. And I really cared about most of the characters. Good drama. I recommend it. But remember it is NOTHING like Drive. Overall, though, something holds this movie back from being excellent instead of just very good. No, I don’t know what that something is. If I knew, I’d be the one making the movies! 🙂
My Rating: 8/10
Mike Patton – The Snow Angel