The Place Beyond the Pines features Ryan Gosling as an experieced driver named Luke. He goes back home to New York and finds out that he has a one year son with his former fling Romina (Eva Mendes). He tries to make it right with his newly discovered boy.
This is the second time filmmaker Derek Cianfrance collaborates with Gosling. Their first one is Blue Valentine that showcases the actor’s abilities with its gritty treatment of a dissolving love story. The Place Beyond the Pines is a family drama with car chases and gun fights. It still contains the emotional rawness that Cianfrance is known for.
The long tracking shot behind the determined lead is done three times in The Place Beyond the Pines. It is symbolism that the protagonist’s inevitable fate is catching up with him. The movie begins with one of those shots. It ends with three men doing stunts inside a cage at top speed. At vital moments, this type of treatment is given to the police patrolman (Bradley Cooper) and Luke’s son (Dane DeHaan).
Gosling’s character is tattooed with a short blonde haircut that is similar to 60s Marlon Brando. Luke quits his job as a stunt driver to be close to his son Jason. He is not used being in one place at a time and he sets up a repair shop with a mechanic (Ben Mendelsohn), who is also a bank robber.
Because of his need for fast cash, Luke joins in a series of bank heists. Luke’s high pitch demand to tellers is the opposite to the usual macho portrayal of bank robbers in crime movies. After a couple of successful jobs, Luke goes for one big one that takes him to an encounter with rookie cop Avery.
The Place Beyond the Pines is full of contrivances yet it manages to remain engaging due to Luke’s crimes, Avery’s ambitions, and the effect both fathers have on their families. It is not for everyone yet it has warmth not felt in typical cops and robbers movies.