If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.
A story in three acts, The Place Beyond the Pines stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes.Â I never did learn from the movie what the title refers to, but I found out via IMDb that the place beyond the pines refers to the name of the city of Schenectady, which is where the movie took place and also was filmed.
Act One involves Luke (Ryan Gosling), a stunt motorcycle rider who works for a traveling circus.Â While performing in Schenectady, he runs into Romina (Eva Mendes), a sometimes lover of his.Â When Luke discovers Romina has a baby boy named Jason and that Jason is HIS son, he decides he wants to be a part of his sonâ€™s life.Â He immediately quits the carnival to stay in town to be near his son.Â Now, what happens next is kind of unbelievable, but itâ€™s a movie so I went with it.Â While riding his motorcycle through the forest, Luke meets Robin (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a trailer to live in and a job fixing cars at his shop.Â Iâ€™m pretty sure nothing like that would happen so fast in real life, but this is movie land so I guess it works.
Now that Luke lives near Romina and Jason, he wants to spend as much time as possible with his son.Â Some scenes were pretty heartbreaking, such as when Luke goes to watch his son get baptized and Romina and her boyfriend are standing up there holding the baby instead of Luke, or when Luke and Romina take Jason for his first ice cream because Luke wants his son to remember him whenever he has ice cream.Â Some fathers just donâ€™t get to spend enough time with their sons, and that’s not right.
Anyway, since he has no job, Luke decides to rob banks to get money to support Romina and their son.Â Â Using his motorcycle to get away from the robberies, he is able to get away with it a few times.Â Until one day, his getaway doesnâ€™t quite go as planned.Â Enter Avery (Bradley Cooper), a cop who is summoned to the house where Luke has taken cover.Â I wonâ€™t spoil exactly what happens next, but itâ€™s not good.
Next comes Act Two.Â This focuses on Avery as he returns to work after a work-related injury.Â Avery and his wife Jennifer (Rose Byrne) have a baby boy, AJ.Â When he returns to work he is on light duty, which includes being in charge of the evidence room.Â Here he finds out that some of his fellow cops arenâ€™t exactly on the good side of the law.Â As he struggles to deal with the guilt of shooting a suspect, he also has to deal with the issue of his crooked cop buddies and his crumbling marriage.
Finally we arrive at Act Three.Â It is fifteen years after the end of Act Two.Â Avery is running for Congress.Â Avery and Jennifer are divorced.Â AJ wants to live with his father in Schenectady, and he is enrolled in the high school there.Â AJ is a drug-addicted, partying waste.Â While at his new school he meets a fellow student, Jason.Â They become fast friends and end up getting into trouble for possession of drugs. Avery tells AJ to stay away from Jason, but AJ wonâ€™t leave Jason alone (not in a homosexual way, just in a buddy kind of way).Â Â I canâ€™t really say much more about this without spoiling anything so Iâ€™ll leave it at that.
One word I can use to describe The Place Beyond the Pines is raw.Â These characters did NOT look glamorous.Â They looked weary and somewhat wrecked.Â Â Director Derek Cianfrance seemed to favor tight, close shots of the actors throughout the movie and there was no escaping their tired eyes.Â I also noticed another camera technique, which was following behind Luke as he walked from his trailer to the tent where he performed his motorcycle stunts.Â It was strange yet it worked, because you felt like you were there at the carnival with him, although I did think â€śgosh I hope the whole movie isn’t filmed this wayâ€ť (it wasnâ€™t).
Overall I thought it was a good story, but it would have kept my interest if it was shorter.