Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5
Why the weird title? It’s the translation for Schenectady, the film’s setting. I didn’t learn this until after watching the film, which made me keep wondering where are the pines and what place are they talking about. So, consider this a spoiler that actually improves your viewing experience – no need to waste time wondering about the title. Ryan Gosling kicks this movie off with a terrific sequence of him walking from his trailer at a carnival right into his role as motorcycle rider inside a metal globe along with a couple of others. I will not give away any of the plot other than to say the following:
- Ryan Gosling is fantastic, compelling to watch as his character both exhibits deep flaws while recognizing, sometimes only minutes after doing something stupid, how he continually makes bad decisions. His humanity shines through and you don’t doubt his sincerity (OK, you might have doubts), while you feel highly skeptical about his chances for a successful life.
- Eva Mendes makes a startling first impression, appearing as one of the most beautiful figures in cinema that I can recall ever seeing. Pay attention, because she’s not as compelling later on.
- Bradley Cooper is also terrific, playing a more complicated character than he did in Silver Lining’s Playbook, maybe the best performance of his career.
The film is structured in three parts, with each part’s story line connected to the prior part. Not all parts are equally excellent, but the ending is perfect, and I never got bored for the whole 2 hours and 20 minutes.
Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
First – thanks to Bill for the info on the title – I’m sure I would have been distracted the whole time without his explanation.
I liked this movie a lot but not quite as much as Bill. I agree with Bill that Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper were excellent with Gosling being the hilight (and I was oh so impressed with Goslings high jumping ability in the bank scenes!). The other performances were great too. I especially liked Ben Mendelsohn as Gosling’s friend.
While Bill really liked the ending I liked the first 2 segments more than I liked the third. I found those a lot more interesting and thought the last third was bit contrived to bring the story together and just wasn’t as compelling to me. And maybe I’m just a little denser as I didn’t know how to interpret the final scenes (so I couldn’t spoil the ending of this movie if I wanted to). But this is definitely worth seeing.