The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines Information

The Place Beyond the Pines is a 2013 American crime drama film directed by Derek Cianfrance, written by Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder. It stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Ray Liotta. The film reunites Cianfrance and Gosling, who worked together on 2010's Blue Valentine. The film was scored by Mike Patton.

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 Glanton is a locally famous motorcycle stuntman working in a traveling act for state fairs. During the fair in Altamont, New York, Glanton gets a visit from ex-lover, Romina, and learns that he is the father of her son. Glanton quits his job as a stuntman to stay in town and provide for his 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. Glanton turns to Robin, an auto repair shop owner, for part-time employment as he continuously attempts to insert himself into his son's life. Making only minimum wage, Glanton asks Robin for more money to care for his son. Robin reveals that he was once a bank robber, and offers to partner with Glanton to hit several banks in the area. The duo perform several successful heists, in which Glanton performs the robbery, then uses his motorbike as a getaway vehicle and drives it into an unmarked truck driven by Robin. Glanton uses the new money to win back Romina's trust and visits her and his son more often. Kofi objects to his presence and the two have an altercation at Kofi's house, resulting in Glanton's arrest for assault after he hits Kofi in the head with a pipe wrench.

After Robin has bailed him out of jail, Glanton immediately wants to resume their bank robberies. Robin objects, not wanting to press their luck, and the two have a falling-out that results in Robin dismantling the motorbike and Glanton taking back the bail money he owed Robin at gunpoint. Frustrated, Glanton makes a sloppy attempt to rob a bank alone and is pursued by police. He falls off his bike during the chase and seeks refuge in a resident's home, where he is pursued by Officer Avery Cross. Glanton, sensing defeat, corners himself upstairs and calls Romina. Just before Cross confronts him, Glanton asks Romina not to tell their child about who he was. Cross enters the room and fires the first shot; Glanton falls out of the second-story window after shooting Cross in the leg. Cross looks out the window to find Glanton dead on the pavement.


Cross, who is a low-ranking officer, gains hero-status after his take-down of the notorious Glanton. Cross feels remorse about shooting Glanton, especially upon discovering that Glanton had a son, as Cross has an infant of his own. Cross's fellow officers Scotty and Deluca are corrupt and unlawfully seize the robbed money from Romina's home and give the "lion's share" to Cross. Cross eventually explains the situation to his commanding officer, who dismisses the charges, unwilling to indict his own department. Still seeking justice, Cross manages to record a fellow officer asking him to illegally remove cocaine from the evidence locker Cross supervises for use in a separate case. Cross uses the recording to get a position as the assistant district attorney.

Jason and AJ

Fifteen years later, Cross is running for public office and has to deal with his now-teenage son AJ, who has gotten into trouble with drugs. Cross has separated from his wife Jennifer and agrees to take AJ into his home, transferring him into the local high school. There AJ befriends a boy named Jason; neither AJ nor Jason know that Jason is the son of Luke Glanton. The two are arrested for felony drug possession, and when Cross 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, though the boys continue to talk.

Jason seeks the truth about his biological father, whom Romina refuses to discuss with him. His stepfather, Kofi, finally tells him his name. He googles his father's name and discovers Glanton's past. He visits Robin's auto shop, and Robin tells Jason more about Luke, including his superior motorbiking skills. Back in school, AJ invites Jason over to his house for a party that night; Jason at first refuses but eventually gives in to AJ. At the house, Jason sees a framed photograph of Cross and eventually realizes that AJ's father is the man who killed his own father. After a fight with AJ, which leaves Jason hospitalized, Jason breaks into Cross's house and beats AJ at gunpoint. When Cross arrives, Jason holds him hostage and orders him to drive into the woods. Although Jason had intended to kill Cross, he reconsiders after Cross tearfully apologizes for killing Jason's father. Jason takes Cross's wallet and suit coat and leaves Cross unharmed. In the wallet Jason finds a photo of himself as a baby with his parents, which Cross had stolen from the evidence locker. Jason then leaves in Cross's car.

Cross wins his bid for New York Attorney General, his son AJ at his side. Romina receives an envelope addressed to "Mom" with the baby picture, while Jason runs away from home and buys a motorbike, with the intention of heading west to make his own life as a traveler, like his father.



The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2012; it received a limited released in the United States on March 29, 2013 and was widely released on April 12, 2013.

Critical reception

The Place Beyond the Pines received positive reviews from critics, earning an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 68 out of 100 on Metacritic.

Writing for the Indiewire "Playlist" blog, Kevin Jagernauth praised the film as an "ambitious epic that is cut from some of the same thematic tissue as Cianfrance's previous film, but expands the scope into a wondrously widescreen tale of fathers, sons and the legacy of sins that are passed down through the generations." He also pointed out that the film could be seen as an "allegory for the moral turpitude that has shaken the American dream." He summarized it as "a brilliant, towering picture ... "The Place Beyond The Pines" is a cinematic accomplishment of extraordinary grace and insight."

David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter praised the acting and cinematography but panned the film's narrative flow, writing: "Cianfrance generally shows again that he knows how to build immersive characterizations with his actors. And while this sorrowful triptych is uneven and perhaps overly ambitious, the director displays a cool mastery of atmospherics and tone, aided by Mike Patton's haunting score."

In The Daily Telegraph, Robbie Collin drew attention to the film's "lower-key and largely unstarry third act" that was criticised in early reviews at Toronto. "In fact, it's the key to deciphering the entire film," he wrote. Collin drew parallels between Gosling's character and James Dean's Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause, and said Cianfrance's film was "great American cinema of the type we keep worrying we've already lost."

Laremy Legel of rated it a better film than Cianfrance's first feature film Blue Valentine, writing: "The Place Beyond the Pines has better pacing and far less muddled themes than his first feature film. There is true beauty in the despair that pervades The Place Beyond the Pines, a film plotted out in triptych, a treatise on the moral compromises we all make to protect and provide for our loved ones. In Cianfrance's world, there are no heroes, only brutal shared truths, protagonists filled with coiled rage, set against menacingly dark hues of Schenectady, New York." He further compared the film's plot with those of classics like The Godfather and A Prophet but added: "The Place Beyond the Pines isn't as good as either of those films, and it's not nearly as watchable as either (less overall arc, too weighty throughout), but it certainly heralds the arrival of a vibrant director. It's not the type of film anyone outside of "serious" film fans will have the patience for, but it's no less the accomplishment for the total lack of comfort it provides an audience."

Henry Barnes of The Guardian gave a mixed review, writing: "The Place Beyond the Pines is ambitious and epic, perhaps to a fault. It's a long, slow watch in the final act, a detour into the next generation that sees the sons of Luke and Avery pick away at their daddy issues together. Cianfrance signposts the ripple effects of crime with giant motorway billboards, then pootles along, following a storyline that drops off Mendes and Byrne before winding on to its obvious conclusion." A negative review came from Slant Magazine's Ed Gonzalez who criticized the film's plot as a "flimsy story beholden to simplistically romantic notions of masculinity, fatherhood, and sin to the level of Greek tragedy. It's a dazzling con that crumbles fast and hard beneath the weight of its ridiculously relentless sense of self-importance." He further expanded: "Cianfrance's indulgence of ellipses feels like a cop-out, and one that makes ciphers of his characters, especially his female ones. Throughout, Cianfrance fast-forwards through the deep stuff so as to give prominence to the (melo)drama of the characters stumbling upon their shared histories. The Place Beyond the Pines never reaches a climax because it's always in one, distilling the lives of its characters to their tensest moments."

See also

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