The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
R / 2h 20m / Crime, Drama
If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.
I don’t know, yall. There is just something about Ryan Gosling committing crimes in high definition. It’s beautiful. It’s meaningful. There’s nothing like it.
The Place Beyond the Pines is, at its core, a journey of manhood. The trailer is 100% misleading making you think that there is one storyline that all meshes together – there isn’t. This film is unique in its telling, and jarring in that the leads change, the story pivots and the entire feeling shifts in other directions.
The following does contain spoilers.
Luke (Gosling) is a carnie motorcycle superstar that knocks up Romina (Mendez) and settles down when he finds out he’s got a precious baby boy to take care of. Romina has an established relationship with Kofi (Ali) – that which Luke tries to buy his way around by fucking robbing local banks. He runs into trouble at the hands of rookie cop Avery (Cooper), loses his life, and sends Avery into a spiral. He has his own family – a wife, Jennifer (Byrne), and a son around the same age as Luke’s. Fifteen years pass and the two sons meet at school – AJ (Cohen) and Jason (DeHaan) navigate the trivialities that have been passed down to them from fathers that tried only to do what they thought was best.
The cast is absolutely stunning, it’s a shame that the whole film doesn’t belong to all of them. Luke is a bad boy, but a bad boy that you want to take care of and see succeed. Kofi is a step father that rises to the occasion in a spectacular and meaningful way. Avery is a man torn between duty and passion. AJ acts out, and craves, desperately, the attention and affection of his father while Jason lives contently with his blended family until he learns the truth about his father’s end.
The storylines aren’t tough to follow, but it becomes difficult for the viewer to continue investing emotionally when each lead’s time in the spotlight comes to an abrupt end.
Additionally, this is a film for men. Strong, strong themes of fatherhood run throughout – its successes, its failures. The emotions that come with a father that wasn’t around and the determination to do better than the generation before, the emotions that come with being a father to a boy that isn’t yours, the emotions that come with having fathers that aren’t ideal, and the emotions that come with not knowing your father, half of yourself, and realizing how much of him is within you, are strong. Every man should see this film. Every spectrum of manhood, fatherhood is addressed – they are forced to confront the thought of the kinds of men and fathers they want to be.
I said before in my A Cure for Wellness (2016) review that I don’t like Dane DeHaan – and I’m still on the fence about him – but I really enjoyed his portrayal of Jason. DeHaan is a skinny, sickly looking, perpetual teenager in my mind, and this role fit his bill. I might even say his was my favorite performance, and that is saying something.
The Place Beyond the Pines is a powerful look at fathers and sons that sadly flew under the radar. It’s an important film, it’s a beautiful film. It’s a film you need to see for a particular existential ride that could change your life for the better.