Fathers and Sons: Mud and The Place Beyond The Pines
The last film I saw before going on vacation was Mud (2012) written and directed by Jeff Nichols. I realized that it had several similar themes with the only film I saw on the flight The Place Beyond The Pines (2012) directed by Derek Cianfrance (he also directed star Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine). So I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the two films together since they both deal with fathers and sons or the lack of father with sons. Mud is more of a coming of age story about a couple of boys who come in contact with a criminal, Matthew McConaughey, and help him plan his escape as a fugitive. The convict is fatherless boy who brought up by a surrogate father played by Sam Shepard. It is somewhat analogous to Stand By Me in that it is a coming of age film. The Place Beyond The Pines is somewhat harder to categorize since it is many films at once. The tone is very elegiac much like his earlier film Blue Valentine. At first it seemed like a crime caper film where a criminal pushes his luck too far, then it becomes a different film about fathers and sons and the legacy left behind. The criminal, Ryan Gosling a gifted motocross rider, is killed in a bank robbery attempt by newly inducted cop, Bradley Cooper, and the film shifts. Absent fathers and father who are present but absent--it seems like a theme worthy of exploration--nature vs. nature. The sons of the criminal incident become inter twinned and many questions about identity and I think children who do not know their parents will be often obsessed with the idea of their original parents no matter what. Everyone wants to know where they come form and identity is always a tricky thing, especially in adolescence. Neither film was a masterpiece, but both were enjoyable with some great acting, some great set pieces, and some food for thought.