The Place Beyond The Pines

A 2013 crime & family drama, The Place Beyond The Pines is directed by Derek Cianfrance, written by Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder. It stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Ray Liotta, with Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne,  Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Bruce Greenwood, Harris Yulin, and Dane DeHaan in supporting roles. The title is the English meaning of the city of Schenectady, New York, which is derived loosely from a Mohawk word for “place beyond the pine plains.”

Luke Glaton (Gosling) is a motorbike stunt ride who works for a traveling state fair and at Altamont, NY is visited by his ex-lover Romina (Mendes). He drops her home and decides to visit her the next day where he finds out that their brief tryst yielded a baby boy, who is turning a year old. Luke quits his job as a stuntman to stay in town and provide for the child, but Romina does not want him in the child’s life, as she has become involved in a relationship with her new man, Kofi (Ali). Luke gets a part time job at an auto repair shop with Robin, who later tells him that he used to rob banks. The duo decides to form a partnership with a helmeted Luke doing the robbery and riding off on his bike to a secluded place where Robin would be waiting with an unmarked truck. In this manner they steal some money and using his share to win back Romina’s trust and visits her and his son more often. Kofi objects to his presence and the two get into a fight at Kofi’s house, resulting in Luke’s arrest after he hits Kofi in the head with a pipe wrench.

After Robin bails him out Luke wants to continue doing more bank jobs but Robin is no longer interested and tells him to cool down for a while, which causes a falling out between the two of them with Robin dismantling the motorbike and Luke taking back the bail money he owed Robin at gunpoint. . Luke had hidden $14k in his son’s crib and decides to rob a bank on his own but is chased by the cops. Falling from his bike, Luke runs into a house pursued by police officer Avery Cross (Cooper). Luke calls Romina from one of the upstairs bedrooms just before Avery confronts him and shoots him first. Luke falls to his death but not before getting a shot on Avery’s leg. Avery is hailed a hero and while at the hospital recovering, he speaks to the DA Bill Killcullen (Greenwood) lies on the official report, saying that Luke shot first. However Avery does feel remorse for Luke’s death especially when he learns that the thief has a 1 year old son, just like Avery does. Avery’s fellow cops comes and collects him from his home and take him to Romina & Kofi’s house where they do a search and find the money. They give the bigger share to Avery and he later attempts to return the money to Romina, but she rejects his offer. Avery then tells his commanding officer about the money but his waived off and one of the cop, Deluca (Liotta), threatens him. Upset that he is stuck in desk job at the evidence locker Avery records one of  the fellow officers asking him to remove cocaine from the evidence locker Avery supervises for use in a separate case. Cross uses the recording to get a position as an assistant district attorney.

15 years later Avery, now separated from his wife, is running for public office. At the funeral for his father, his wife Jennifer (Byrne) asks him to take in their troubled 17 year old son AJ to live with him in Schenectady. There AJ befriends a boy named Jason; neither AJ nor Jason know that Jason is Luke’s son. The two are arrested for felony drug possession, and when Avery is called in to pick up his son, he recognizes Jason’s name. He uses his influence to get Jason’s charge dropped to a misdemeanor and orders AJ to stay away from Jason, but the boys continue to talk. Jason learns from Kofi that his real father’s name was Luke Glaton and researched him on the internet and goes to meet Robin. Robin tells Jason more about Luke, including his superior motorbiking skills. At school, AJ invites him to a party at his house (when Avery is away) and guilt-trips Jason into stealing Oxycontin for the party. Jason does so but at the party sees an old photo of Avery, who he recognizes as the cop who killed his father Luke. After a fight with AJ, which leaves Jason hospitalized, Jason breaks into Avery’s house and beats AJ at gunpoint. When Avery arrives, Jason holds him hostage and orders him to drive into the woods. Although Jason had intended to kill Avery, he reconsiders after Cross tearfully apologizes for killing Jason’s father. Jason takes Avery’s wallet and suit coat. In the wallet Jason finds a photo of himself as a baby with his parents, which Avery had stolen from the evidence locker. Jason then leaves in Avery’s car.

The last scenes we see Avery winning the election and becoming the Attorney General of NY while Jason, who has left home, sends his mother the photo he found in Avery’s wallet. He buys an old Honda from a man, with the intention of heading west. Really gripping film with a story line that will entertain and grab your attention, even though the film is lower budget, less mainstream movie. I thought everyone did a good job in the movie. 8.5 outta 10!

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