The Place Beyond the Pines

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The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Produced by Lynette Howell
Sidney Kimmel
Alex Orlovsky
Jamie Patricof
Written by Derek Cianfrance
Ben Coccio
Darius Marder
Story by Derek Cianfrance
Ben Coccio
Starring Ryan Gosling
Bradley Cooper
Eva Mendes
Ray Liotta
Ben Mendelsohn
Rose Byrne
Mahershala Ali
Bruce Greenwood
Harris Yulin
Music by Mike Patton
Cinematography Sean Bobbitt
Editing by Jim Helton
Ron Patane
Studio Hunting Lane Films
Pines Productions
Sidney Kimmel Entertainment
Silverwood Films
Distributed by Focus Features
Release dates
  • September 7, 2012 (2012-09-07) (TIFF)
  • March 29, 2013 (2013-03-29) (United States, limited)
Running time 140 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[2]
Box office $47,011,449[3]

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, with Ben Mendelsohn, Rose Byrne, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Bruce Greenwood, Harris Yulin, and Dane DeHaan in supporting roles. 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."[4][5]

The film featured previously written music by Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.


Luke Glanton is a locally famous motorcycle stuntman working in a traveling act for state fairs. During the fair in Altamont, New York, Luke visits his ex-lover, Romina, and learns he is the father of her infant son. 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 another man named Kofi. Luke 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, Luke asks Robin for more money to care for his son. Robin reveals he was once a bank robber, and offers to partner with Luke to hit several banks in the area. The duo perform several successful heists, in which Luke does the robbery, then uses his motorbike as a getaway vehicle and drives it into an unmarked truck driven by Robin. Luke 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 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 has bailed him out of jail, Luke 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 Luke taking back the bail money he owed Robin at gunpoint. Luke attempts 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 Schenectady Police Officer Avery Cross. Luke corners himself upstairs and calls Romina. Just before Avery confronts him, Luke asks Romina not to tell their child about who he was. Avery enters the room and fires the first shot; Luke falls out of the second-story window after shooting Avery in the leg. Avery looks out the window to find Luke dead on the pavement.

Avery gains hero status after his takedown of Luke. Avery feels remorse about shooting Luke, especially as Avery’s fellow officers Scotty and Deluca seize the robbed money from Romina’s home and give him the lion's share in honour of his newfound hero status. He later attempts to return the money to Romina, but she rejects his offer. Avery eventually tries to turn the money in to his commanding officer, who dismisses him, wishing not to get involved. Avery records a fellow officer asking him to remove cocaine from the evidence locker Avery supervises for use in a separate case. Avery uses the recording to get a position as an assistant district attorney.

Fifteen years later, Avery is running for public office and has to deal with his now-teenage son AJ, who has gotten into trouble with drugs. Avery has separated from his wife Jennifer and agrees to take AJ into his home. AJ transfers into the high school 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 seeks the truth about his biological father, whom Romina refuses to discuss with him. His stepfather, Kofi, finally tells the boy his father's name. He discovers Luke’s past on the Internet. 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 and guilt-trips Jason into stealing Oxycontin for the party. Jason eventually gives in to AJ, arriving at the party with stolen drugs. At the house, Jason sees a framed photograph of Avery and realizes that AJ's father is the man who killed his own father. After a fight with AJ, which leaves Jason hospitalized with mild facial injuries, Jason breaks into the Cross family home 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 Avery 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.

Avery wins his bid for New York Attorney General, with AJ at his side. Romina receives an envelope addressed to "Mom" with the old photograph of Jason with his parents. Jason leaves home and buys a motorbike, reminiscent of his father's, and head west, presumably intending to start anew.



The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2012; it received a limited release in the United States on March 29, 2013 and was widely released on April 12, 2013.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The Place Beyond the Pines received critical acclaim .. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 81% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 190 reviews, with an average score of 7.3/10. The site's consensus states: "Ambitious to a fault, The Place Beyond the Pines finds writer/director Derek Cianfrance reaching for—and often grasping—thorny themes of family, fatherhood, and fate."[7] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 68 based on 42 reviews, considered to be "generally favorable reviews".[8]

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."[9]

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."[10]

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."[11]

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."[12]

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."[13]

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."[14]


  1. ^ "THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  2. ^ "The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)". 
  3. ^ "The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)". 
  4. ^ Pearson, Jonathan. "A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times". July 30, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2009.
  5. ^ Scott, A. O. (March 28, 2013). "Good Intentions, Paving the Usual". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Chitwood, Adam (October 16, 2012). "THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, Starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, Set for Limited Release on March 29, 2013". Collider. Retrieved October 17, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Place Beyond the Pines". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. 2013-01-21. 
  8. ^ "The Place Beyond The Pines Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (2012-09-07). "TIFF Review: 'The Place Beyond The Pines' A Searing Tale Of Fathers, Sons & The Legacy Of Sins". The Playlist. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Rooney, David. "The Place Beyond the Pines: Toronto Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Collin, Robbie (2013-04-11). "The Place Beyond the Pines, review". 
  12. ^ Legel, Laremy (2013-03-27). "Review: The Place Beyond the Pines". Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Barnes, Henry (2012-09-08). "The Place Beyond the Pines – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Gonzalez, Ed (2013-03-15). "The Place Beyond The Pines". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

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