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Pilgrim Hill and The Place Beyond the Pines - Sue Murphy reviews

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Naomi Linehan
14:50 Friday 12 April 2013
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Here's the latest film reviews from our Movies and Booze Roadshow in Tullamore

Pilgrim Hill (12A)***
 
Director: Gerard Barrett
Starring: Joe Mullins, Muiris Crowley, Corina Gough
 
There is no denying that Irish film has most certainly been nothing less than spectacular over the last few years. With the international success of films like The Guard and Once, and exciting new productions like Good Vibrations, which is probably one of the finest and uplifting films to ever come out of Ireland, we are certainly having our moment in the sun. Despite the obvious lack in major resources and cuts to the funding, we have proved once again that we are a force to be reckoned with in filmmaking. We have finally started to move away from that awkward type of filmmaking that can often leave audiences cold, besides the installments from the heavy hitters like The Field and The Crying Game, and begun to place more accurate depictions of our society on to the big screen.
 
This could not be more obvious with new Irish film, Pilgrim Hill, directed by Gerard Barrett. Set in rural Ireland, the film tells the story of Jimmy, a lonely farmer who is extremely isolated, managing a small farm and looking after his father who is critically ill. Jimmy’s solitary existence involves trips to the local mart, milking the cows that have almost become his friends and a couple of drinks in the deserted local on a Saturday night. However, although it seems like this kind of life, his loneliness and obvious depression could not get any worse, Jimmy’s life is about to take another turn.
 
Gerard Barrett was the winner of the Rising Star award at IFTA this year and it’s not hard to understand why; Pilgrim Hill has already attracted a lot of international attention since its debut at the Galway Film Fleadh. Barrett shot the film when he was 23 on a budget of just 4,500 euro. Although it can move quite slowly, this is just a reflection of the life that Jimmy must lead. Shot like a documentary, the camera follows Jimmy everywhere he goes in his daily life and what will really hit home is the silence, the unending silence. Joe Mullins performance as the isolated farmer is just heartbreaking, a man dedicated to his farm and father, with a false sense of obligation. Jimmy has given up everything to stay and he barely has a conversation with another human being from one end of the day to the next.
 
On top of the above, Pilgrim Hill is scarily reflective of the life that a lot of isolated farmers living in rural areas lead. Anyone who has hailed from a rural background will recognize Jimmy’s character, and unfortunately, be able to name at least one person they know who lives like that, abandoned by others who have left the country, false senses of dedication and obligation, but most of all, feelings of utter loneliness.
 
The Place Beyond the Pines (15A) ***


Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes


On the last occasion Cianfrance worked with Gosling the result was the beautiful and heartbreaking Blue Valentine, an all too realistic look at the life of a young couple following their marriage and the birth of their child. Gosling was the real star of that production, brooding, on occasion irritating but still a lost soul, his end was nothing less than spectacular. It was perhaps no surprise then that the director planned to work with Gosling again. However, on this occasion, Gosling is far from the star of the piece. That title rests solely with his co-star Bradley Cooper.


Revolving around the character of Gosling’s Luke initially, The Pines brings us directly into his world where he works as a bike stunt rider in the circus. Luke is from the wrong side of the tracks and does what he knows how to do, ride his motorbike. However, following a visit from an old flame, Romina, he sets off back through the city to reconnect with her. When he arrives on Romina’s doorstep he finds out that she was hiding a lot more than he thought, she had his child when he left. Luke gives up the wandering lifestyle to do the right thing; become a father to his son, a son he cannot always provide for. When he becomes mixed up in the world of bank robbery and is hotly pursued by a rookie cop with a chip on his shoulder, things take a turn for the worst.


To say that Pines is a secret sell would be an understatement and to go in blind would be the best method of approaching it. Gosling continues to put in solid performances, however a lot of these are now starting to mirror each other; there is something distinctly like Drive about the scenes, the neon light that washes over his face, his silence, that grumpy manner, he seems to be constantly in a loop of annoyed, disgruntled characters. However, here, it serves its purpose. Mendes doesn’t really have to do much but is fine for the role but the real stand out performance is once again Bradley Cooper. Delivering the best performance of his career in Silver Linings, Cooper could have possibly won that Oscar if it wasn’t for Day-Lewis. Here, he is spellbinding. Aggressive, ambitious but still displaying signs of guilt along the way, this is possibly better than Silver Linings and there are certainly better things to come.


Try to stay away from spoilers, trailers and clips. Pines is much better when you know nothing of the story...


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Naomi Linehan

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