“If you ride like lightning, you’re gonna crash like thunder.”
I like stories that happen from one single event and things just snowball into big things. A lot of the TV shows I enjoy are like that. I think it is fascinating how one event can change and affect everyone involved. Not too many movies I have seen can pull of that kind of a story and do it well. The Place Beyond the Pines happens to be one of the only movies I have seen that has been able to pull off the scenario and do so in a perfect way.
Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt motorcycle rider in a carnival. All the women come out to see him. One woman (Eva Mendes) comes out to see him after the show. She asks him if he remembers her. He does he remembers her name is Romina. Luke takes her home on his motorcycle that night. He wants to see her again but she tells him she has a new man. The following night Luke goes to see Romina at her house. Her mother opens the door holding a baby. He asks who the baby is and the mother tells him the baby is his. Romina tells Luke she is doing what she can to survive. She is going to school, working, and has a new boyfriend. Luke decides to quit the carnival and stick around to be there for his son Jason. He goes to the church where Romina and her boyfriend Kofi are having Jason baptized. Luke sits down in a pew and cries.
Luke meets a guy named Robin. Robin offers Luke a job in his shop but not too many people go to his shop and there is little money to be made. Robin mentions something about robbing banks to Luke. Luke takes him up on the idea. He robs the banks and Robin has a truck where Luke drives his bike into it and they take off before the cops can find him. This goes well for a while until Robin wants to back out. He cuts Luke’s bike in half and Luke almost kills him for it. Luke does a job without Robin on a different bike. The bike stalls in front of the bank and Luke cannot get away before the cops come. He manages to ride away but the cops are right on his tail. Luke manages to ride down a neighborhood street until he almost crashes into a car. He runs into a house to get away from the police officer, Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), who is chasing him. Avery goes into the house and finds Luke upstairs. Luke is on the phone he does not want the person to tell Jason about him and what he has done. Avery tells Luke to put the gun down but Luke is on the phone. He shoots Luke and as Luke is falling out the window he shoots Avery in the leg. Luke falls to his death. When Avery finds out Luke has a baby his own sons age he is very shaken by what he has done. He feels he has ruined a little boy’s life forever.
Avery is named a hero for saving the mother and son in the house. While he is recuperating some guys from the force come to his house to take him out to celebrate. They take him to Romina’s house telling her they do not have a warrant but they could make her life harder by not reporting her mother for not having papers to live in America. They find the money under Jason’s crib but they tell her they did not find anything. The one cop gives Avery most of the money since he is the hero. Avery goes to the police chief to tell him what happened but the chief does not want to hear it. The one cop pulls Avery over and has him follow him out to the woods. Avery is not stupid he knows the cop was going to kill him and drives away. He goes to internal affairs and makes a deal with the head of the division: if he gives up all this information and helps get the cops he wants to be made assistant DA since he has a law degree.
Fifteen years later Avery is running for Attorney General. He and his wife are divorced and his son, AJ, wants to come live with him. AJ is not a good kid. He gets involved with a kid in school. The kid is good and quiet. AJ starts hanging out with the kid and one night has the kid take him to get some drugs. The police catch up to them arrest them. Avery shows up. When he hears the kid’s name is Jason he tells his son to leave Jason alone and has all the charges against Jason dropped.
Eventually Jason starts looking into his father since Romina will not tell him about Luke. Once he finds out what his father’s name was he looks into how he was killed and even looks up Robin. At party at AJ’s house he recognizes Avery’s police photo from the newspaper articles.
The three main cast members were perfection. Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, and Eva Mendes were amazing. Gosling has the perfect look for his character. He looks like he could be bad but have good intentions and that is exactly what Luke was like. Gosling’s acting was great. I never really paid attention to his acting before but I think I may now after seeing him in this. Eva Mendes I could not get over how great her acting was. I have never really seen her anything except for maybe one of her chick flicks or on talk shows. I never knew she had the kind of depth and range she had in this movie. Like Gosling I may have to start paying attention to Mendes more. She was heartbreaking, you were not watching an actress you were watching a character. I was so happy to see Bradley Cooper not playing an asshole. This is one of Cooper’s best performances I have seen. He needs to be in more movies like this. Rose Byrne is in the movie for a bit as Avery’s wife. She is so talented and she is always a character or bit actress I wish she could get a leading one (besides the Insidious movies) or go for one. I would really like to see her paired with Cooper in another movie where they are the main characters/actors.
The Place Beyond the Pines is a very good movie. After the movie was over I was happy to see something like this had been made and released. It was different and at times surprising. I liked how all these characters were connected and even their children were connected years later. The people feel real the characters are people who live around you. It feels like the story is very grounded in real life you are not getting anything glamorous or fake. I can only recommend watching The Place Beyond the Pines if you really likes movies and you like a good story. I have heard from too many people that they did not like it but they have been the ones who think the truly awful movies are good and do not understand movies like The Place Beyond the Pines so only watch it if you really like movies and appreciate a good story.