KieraMaloney's Rating of The Place Beyond The Pines

Kiera's Review of The Place Beyond The Pines

2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
The Place Beyond The Pines

The Place Beyond The Pines(2013)

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There are three acts to this movie. In act one we're given Luke Glanton, a motorcycle stuntman for the state fair. He doesn't have everything figured out, but he does understand that he has responsibilities. Once he learns that the woman he had a fling with bore his child, he is determined to do everything he can for Romina (Eva Mendes) and the baby. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a lot of money or skills to work a day job, so he decides to rob banks. The second act starts after the confusion and sudden gunshots between Luke and Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), the cop who was chasing him down. Cross is applauded by the whole town for killing this notorious robber, but hates the way he feels for taking a father away from his infant son.

Act three takes place fifteen years later, with Cross running for attorney general on fuel from exposing corrupt cops. His son AJ and Luke's son Jason are the same age and are both very troubled boys. After Jason finds out that AJ's father killed his own father, he attacks AJ and holds Avery Cross hostage with intent to kill him. Cross apologizes, seeming to let out fifteen years of built up remorse over Luke's death through his tears, which makes Jason decide not to shoot him. Instead, he takes Cross's car and wallet, in which he finds a photo of himself as a baby with his mother and father. The film concludes with Cross winning attorney general and Jason mailing his mother the photo and finally riding off on the motorcycle he purchased.

I was already so impressed halfway through the movie because of the drastic shift that takes place after Luke's death. It's a very good, understated twist--Ryan Gosling is right in the middle of the poster so you don't expect him to go so soon. Bradley Cooper carries the remainder of the film from this point, constantly dealing with his friends and family making him out to be the hero he doesn't believe himself to be. And with his agitation and regret, which he tries to ignore, there comes an unsettling feeling reinforced with the audience. Is he the good guy? I like this movie a lot because it could have easily gone in a number of different directions--it could've been a fast-paced thriller about a skilled biker who becomes obsessed with robbing banks. Or it could've been exclusively about Bradley Cooper's cop character, busting crooked officers and using that as political fuel for his designs on attorney general. Fortunately, it's ambitious enough to look at multiple perspectives.

Generally speaking, you get movies that make criminals seem cool (Goodfellas, Bonnie and Clyde) and movies where the good guys are the heroes (every cop/superhero/war movie). The Place Beyond the Pines presents a rare package deal. Not that moral ambiguity is unprecedented, but the balance between good and evil in the film is almost frustratingly even. There is sympathy and heartache for all characters involved. It's challenging in a way that's upsetting and difficult to swallow, because the bad guy isn't really so bad and the good guy is not completely good. Everyone makes mistakes and this film causes you to look deeply at the consequences that follow. It's a very dreary story that makes ideals and dreams seem almost impossible to reach, but nonetheless leaves you feeling somewhat hopeful.

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