"The Place Beyond the Pines" is an uncomfortable experience, and not worth watching.
The movie begins with Luke, a carnival performer, a motorcycle rider who does intricate patterns in a spherical cage. On an annual return, he finds he has an infant son from last year's fling. He immediately quits the carnival to settle down and find some way to support his kid. But what starts as an interesting story of an unexpected father, played well by Ryan Gosling, veers into the absurd. Trail-riding amongs the oak and ash trees, he meets up with a local loner, who takes in him, gives him a low-paying job as mechanic, and his trailer to stay in...and then explains that he robs banks, and wouldn't Luke like to do a couple of jobs with him to support that son of his.
Luke is shown to be wholly unlikeable. He's violent, and immediately turns to armed robbery to solve his money problems.
The bank heists are preposterous. Luke is shown as this vagabond like fellow riding a cheap dirt bike around town without a helmet. He stands out. A week later, there are "moto bike" robberies in town by a fellow on a cheap dirt bike. No one can figure out who did it. It fails as a plot line. And then he is killed by a green cop during a robbery gone bad.
The green cop, Avery, played by Bradley Cooper, is hailed as a local hero, and is immediately pulled into a nonsense storyline about the local corrupt cops shaking down the Luke's former lover for the stolen money he left her before being killed. The dirty cops are led, of course, by Ray Liotta. Because if you're going to have a cliched dirty-cop story, then you go all in an cast Ray Liotta. Avery tries to tell the police chief, who flatly tells him he doens't want to know about it. Also, Avery's wife hates his job on the force and wants him to leave the force. Because that's required for a bad cop story.
Avery is emotionally conflicted, and ultimately does the right thing to cynical ends. But he's not really interesting, and and saddled with a ridiculously bad story.
15 years later, we have Avery's son, Jack. Avery is running for state office of some sort, is divorced, his dad passed away, and he's racked with guilt for killing Luke and leaving his son without a father. Also, Avery's own son is now a teen, and completely screwed up because Avery is a terrible father. An ironically terrible father. Whose son wants / doesn't want to live with him for his senior year of high school.
Jack has only one goal, to talk with a central-casting NYC white-boy thug accent. Even though he's from Troy, NY. The accent is so inexplicable that dialog is wasted to comment on it.
His other goal in life is to get high. The local dealer is Luke's son, Jason. They meet. Jack is a terrible person, faking friendship only to buy drugs from Jason. Jason, also a teen, is incomprehensibly screwed up as well. Even though his step father loves him deeply, is caring, funny, sensitive, and been with him by choice since he was an infant. But Jack perpetually mourns a father he never knew, and is the local loner / drug middle man.
He gets his dads name, googles him, discovers he was actually a horrible person and his mom was justified in shielding him from his legacy...and becomes even more screwed up. He also discovers his bro Jack's dad killed his dad. So he gets a gun, kidnaps Avery, threatens to kill him. Avery, racked with guilt, cries, which spooks Jason more than pointing a gun at man's head. He flees into the maple trees.
He uses his drug money, buys a motorcycle, and with his inherited powers of bike riding, starts a bike for the first time in his life and rides off into the sunset.
Two and half hours later, three acts of unlikeable people with unbelieveable story lines later...I'm completely confused. Presumably, the movie is trying to be a serious contemplation of the sins of the father, etc. Unfortunately, it's a overlong sequence of disagreeable people.
But where were the pine trees? There were no pine trees to be beyond. Every forest shot was of deciduous trees. Even the title makes no sense.
Edited by DaveF, May 01 2013 - 05:51 PM.