The Place Beyond The Pines is an excellent gritty independent American film focussing on real-life rather than the usual Hollywood blockbuster fairy tales.
Luke [Ryan Gosling] is a mid-twenties young man trying to put his life together after having a good youthful time and now trying to get his old girlfriend back Romina [Eva Mendes] whom he genuinely loves.
Unbeknownst to Luke he has become a father and this gives him more incentives to reconcile with Romina and have a solid family unit. Unfortunately she has moved on and is in another relationship with another man and this creates more tension in Luke’s mind.
Luke cannot accept she has moved on and even though she didn’t tell him he had become a father he naturally cannot accept another man looking after his child.
As Luke is new in town he hasn’t got a lot going for him, but as a very good and competent motorcyclists he decides to rob banks after his new employer Robin Van Der Hook [Ben Mendelsohn] the owner of a mechanical car repair garage reveals that he used to rob banks in order to get by years ago and suggests this to Luke so he can help fund his child’s life, and in a way reconnect in a relationship with Romina.
The film is intense and despite Luke’s mistakes you feel that Romina should give him another chance, though her new man naturally would feel deeply unhappy with that decision.
Another aspect of the film that pushes the boundaries is the focus on race and as we know America still has deep divisions with racial problems. So the fact that Romina is Hispanic, her new man Kofi Kancam [Mahershala Ali] is black and Luke is white from a working class background, it is quite a mixture that in some parts of America wouldn’t accept.
It doesn’t take many bank robberies before the local police start to investigate and try and apprehend this criminal. Corruption is rife in the local police and police officer Avery Cross [Bradley Cooper] who wants to solve these series of bank robberies in order to get promoted and clean-up his patch is on Luke’s back.
The film captures this three way battle; Luke wanting to prove to Romina that he’s a changed grown man, Romina rejecting his advances and doesn’t want anything to do with him and Avery who is desperate to get Luke and move-up the ranks fast.
The film portrays a side of America we don’t often see, the under privileged, the day to day getting through life, but this film grabs these social issues many experience, not just in America.