Review: The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)

the place beyond the pines movie poster

“If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.”
– Robin Van Der Zee

Passing through Altamount, New York, motorcycle stuntman for traveling act for state fairs Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) gets visited by his ex-lover, Romina (Eva Mendes). He returns a year later to discover from her mother Malena (Olga Merediz) that he is the father of a young boy. Intent on being in his son’s life, Luke quits the fair and meets Robin Van Der Zee (Ben Mendelsohn), who gives him a job at his auto repair shop. Luke is not making the money he needs to provide for Romina, her mother and her son, and she is not willing to leave her new man, Kofi (Mahershala Ali). This sparks unrest, and Luke gets desperate. In his desperation, he is roped in to Robin’s plans to rob banks to make money quickly, and the two team up to make a small fortune. However, an altercation with Kofi leads to Luke getting locked up and later bailed out, and Robin calls for an end to their bank robbing ways. This is simply not good enough for Luke, who will do it on his own then.

the place beyond the pines family

“I’m still his father, I can give him stuff. I got this for him, just give it to him. Tell him it’s from me.” – Luke

Naturally, there was no way that that was going to go down well, and in the escape, Luke is killed by Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper) just after telling Romina to never tell their son about him. A new chapter begins in which Avery is the hero in the story, but soon things go awry. Friends in the police force, corrupt cops Scotty (Gabe Fazio) and Peter Deluca (Ray Liotta) take Avery to the house of Romina, where they harass her and later steal the money that Luke left for his son. Avery is wracked with guilt, and attempts to report the abuse that was rained down upon Romina and her family to his commanding officer. This does not make matters better, naturally, and Avery goes from being the city hero to the most hated man in the precinct. Turning to his father, Al (Harris Yulin), Avery manages to get incriminating evidence which he uses to secure his position as the assistant district attorney.

the place beyond the pines cop shop

“I joined the police force because I wanted to work alongside the brave men and women who know that some problems can’t be solved by talking.” – Avery Cross

Fifteen years after the debacle that was Luke’s death and the launchpad for Avery’s career, Avery’s father passes. His ex-wife, Jannifer (Rose Byrne) tells him that his son, AJ (Emory Cohen), insists that he wishes to stay with his father. Avery is in the midst of campaigning for the position of Attorney General, but finally relents. Starting school AJ meets up with Jason (Dane DeHaan). Together the boys have their own family issues, but become friends for a short while after smoking some pot together. However, after buying some ecstasy, the two are arrested by police. Avery is furious with his son, but shocked to discover at the police station that his son was with Jason, the son of Luke Glanton. He gets the charges squashed a bit and demands that AJ no longer see Jason. Boys will be boys, though soon each boy’s lives begin to crack and crumble. AJ, the rebel with the successful father, wishes to walk over everyone and be hero worshipped. Jason demands to know more about his family, though no one is willing to give him answers.


“I know you don’t have time to deal with this stuff right now…” – AJ Cross

Slowly but surely each boy digs their way further into things that were better left unsaid and undone. Will AJ continue to bend Jason to his will? Will Avery ever be able to admit that what he did to Luke was wrong, and that he rode through that accident to success? Will Jason ever learn more about his father, discover his secrets, dig around more and understand things that were always denied him? How will all these characters come together, and how will they impact one another. One mishap years ago seems to resonate through the past and into the present and future.

This film scores a well-founded 8/10 for The Place Beyond The Pines. I really enjoyed how you could see the three distinct “chapters” of this movie, so to speak, and it has a pretty decent cast. It was interesting to see how Luke was always going to be an outlaw, regular just wasn’t ever going to work for him. It is sad to see how he goes from wanting any and everything to do with his child to not existing in his child’s eye. Bradley Cooper was great as a regular cop who went in and had his whole life changed around because his nerves were shot. How he maneuvered his way into higher office than he was was excellent, though it was rough to see a good cop become just another one of those crappy corrupt men. The divine intervention that brought the sons together was interesting, too. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the camera work for the movie, and everything was well shot and looked stunning. The movie feels a lot longer than it is, and not because it is not a good flick or boring, just due to the sheer amount of story that they manage to squeeze into their time frame. Dane DeHaan had another excellent performance, and I truly feel that he is a vastly underrated actor who deserves a lot more recognition. Not a bad watch at all, I was pleasantly surprised, seeing as I had no idea what to expect after Luke was killed. Not bad.

21 thoughts on “Review: The Place Beyond The Pines (2012)

  1. Simply an incredible movie, I loved it. 8/10 I completely agree with as I thought as the movie continued, it seemed to lose a teeny bit of momentum, particularly when we got to the boys’ stories. Because it was such an epic film, it was bound to have a weak spot somewhere but for the most part I think this was one of my favorites of the year. I hope it’s remembered come the Oscars. Great review Zoe. 🙂


    • It really was an impressive one! Maybe so, but I thoroughly enjoyed Dane DeHaan’s performance, I think he is a brilliant actor. I hope so, too. It would be a brilliant addition for a contender. Thanks Tom!


    • Yeah, the length was the only way the story cold be put out so properly. The last bit was a bit melodramatic, but not so bad that it killed everything. Thanks Dan!


  2. I can’t believe I missed this after waiting for the film so long – I adore both Gosling and Cooper and I loved this film before watching it. Wonderful review – I’ll be watching this very, very soon now. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I thought this was an excellent movie Zoe. It did have its faults; the absence of Gosling was one of them and the final third seemed a little shoehorned in but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s my second favourite movie of the year after the Danish movie “The Hunt”.


  4. Great review Zoe! Haven’t seen this one but I might just have to get over my dislike for Gosling and watch it already, ahah. Curious about De Haan’s performance people are buzzing about.


  5. Super review Zoe and pretty spot on in your assessment. It was long but there was just so much to tell that it did need to be. I thought the final third was a little underwhelming but it didn’t stop me enjoying it. And you’re right about DeHaan, he’s a really promising actor, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen him in.


    • Thanks Chris! It just needed that time, and it was not time wasted, so you can give it to them and not feel bad, you know. Slightly underwhelming, but I liked how it all tied together. DeHaan is so underrated and deserves far more credit than he gets.


  6. Agree. I really enjoyed this one! 🙂 My hubby and I really disagreed on this film and we don’t normally. He thought the last act was the worst but I liked how it all came together at the end. It was only the second act where I lost interest slightly. First the best by far, though.


  7. Pingback: Top Ten Movies of 2013 | The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

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