The Place Beyond the Pines (2013) - dir. Derek Cianfrance
The Place Beyond the Pines is modeled after the classic three-act structure of Greek dramas. Each act is given the same amount of emphasis, and deals with the same issues - but not necessarily the same characters. This expansive format proves to be an immense challenge for the young director, but Cianfrance doesn’t shy away - he goes for it. Now the difficulties of this structure are automatically going to split audiences (see: mixed reviews) but if you’re willing to forgive the small cracks in each act and take a look at the film as a whole… you’ll find the Pines to be a true piece of art.
The entire film exists in a grey area allowing each person to be both a protagonist and an antagonist. Each character lives by their own moral code… this is obviously very demanding but Cianfrance pulls out phenomenal performances from his entire cast (Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn and Emory Cohen all deliver the best performances of their respective careers). The film is certainly not going to appeal to everyone - but at least one character or one part will hit home with everyone. It’s a thrilling experience and one of the most emotionally-involved films I’ve ever seen.
I watch hundreds of films a year with the hopes of seeing just one like this.