The Place Beyond the Pines
The old saying “action has consequences” has more good then bad. We are who we are thanks to the decisions that we’ve made not just in school and work, but in life. Take yourselves back to when you were children. You made the decision to play with the toy cars instead of the plastic dolls. Give the proper time, and you are now in a career that involves that same passion. You have found something about your job to work for because you made the idea a long time ago that you wanted to be a part of that. If you could go back, would you really wanna change that?
The concept of action having consequences goes back to your parents. What I mean is that everything they’ve done has built your personality. I grew up with parents that went to college and got some good business jobs. They didn’t just jump into having children in 1980. They had kids when the time proved better in their odds. Maybe if I was born earlier, I would have grown up differently and probably not end up writing. I can’t guarantee that would have been my fate, but it’s interesting to think about. Action, consequences, and legacy go together in the dramatic saga, The Place Beyond the Pines.
The title refers to the setting in a small town in upper-state New York. This is the kind of place where the people are supposed to be more down to Earth and less likely to lead into dark lives. I’m familiar with these places. What resembles a quiet wooded paradise is just ordinary for the people that live here. No matter where you come from, your molding of your persona will come from the people that bring you up. That’s why we have that saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”.
The best way to talk about the story is to reveal that it’s actually three. The first part focuses on a motorcycle stuntman named Luke Glanton (played by Ryan Gosling). He’s visited by his former lover, Romina (played by Eva Mendes), who reveals that he’s fathered a child. Wanting to provide, even though she’s seeing someone else, he resorts to bank robbing, as his motorcycle skills allow for a quick getaway. The second story revolves around local cop Avery Cross (played by Bradley Cooper). He goes through a situation that results in him getting shot in the leg. When his police buddies find some extra cash, they decide to keep it and share it rather then report it. Avery becomes disgusted with what he witnesses and attempts to takes it to his chief and district attorney. The third story revolves around his son, but that I won’t give away.
I can tell that director Derek Cianfrance (same man behind Blue Valentine) wanted to give this saga of a story a more character based structure. He wanted the characters to evolve from the events that transpire. Without giving anything away, the characterization is great. The films main focus of character relationships and personal growth is actually interesting. I really liked seeing Ryan Gosling’s character going through the dilemma of wanting to provide for his baby, even though he himself has yet to grow up.
Does the movie have a good structure? Yes, as it goes through it’s stories in a coherent manner. It’s like looking at a set of connecting short stories. That said, I wish these stories were shorter. At a running time of almost two and a half hours, it runs out of gas by the beginning of the third story.
I’ll give this three and a half Metallica t-shirts out of five. Though it starts out as an exciting motorcycle ride of a story, it eventually turns into a NASCAR race of repetitiveness. I’m sure this film will build an audience, but not much of a rewatch event. The Place Beyond the Pines simply wasn’t the great saga we thought we were going to receive.