The Place Beyond the Pines

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Place Beyond the Pines Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Melancholy, mature drama explores father-son themes.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 140 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is pretty bleak, but it does put forth the idea that what goes around comes around. And that sometimes, even the most troubled souls will want to do right -- they just might not know how.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Romina is a mother who's just trying to do right by her son, though it doesn't always work well for her. Luke is the same, though he goes about it in a damaging way. Avery is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and he tries mightily to do the right thing -- but at a high cost.


Violent scenes include characters drawing guns and shooting at one another. In one instance, a man puts a gun into another character's mouth. A man is shot and falls through a window, the camera lingering on his broken body, blood seeping underneath his head. A teen shoots another and points his gun at someone else. He also gets beaten to a bloody pulp. In many scenes, a menacing vibe lingers.


Flirty gazes and some kissing. The movie begins with the camera gazing at a man's naked, chiseled torso and back. A sexual reference.


Very frequent, strong language includes "f--k" (and the related "motherf--ker"), "s--t," "bitch," "p---y," "d--k," "a--hole," "ass," "hell," "oh my God," and more, sometimes said by teens.


Logos for Honda and Chevrolet are prominently displayed; specific mention of the drug Oxycontin.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens are shown partying/drinking, popping pills (Oxycontin), and smoking pot at a party. Adults are also seen drinking and smoking cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Place Beyond the Pines is a powerful but bleak drama about what happens when a man discovers that he has fathered a child with a fling he can't forget and tries to make it right, thereby unleashing a series of wrongs. It's violent (for example, a character is shot dead, the camera lingering on his bloody, broken body; other scenes also involve guns, a beating, and more), fairly bleak, and quite difficult to watch at times. Expect very strong, frequent swearing ("s--t," "f--k," and more); drinking, pill-popping, and pot smoking among teens (plus adults drinking and smoking), and moments of heightened menace that will be too intense for younger viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bysarge123 February 5, 2015
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 March 8, 2014

An epic zoomed in on family legacy

I really enjoyed what this movie's intentions were: that a simple action, a mistake, can knock down the dominoes that may lead to the next generation carry... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byKaneBump November 17, 2018
Teen, 15 years old Written byToasty M. September 30, 2018

An inspiring, disturbing, film focused on the importance of camaraderie... and it's disguised as a crime drama.

To begin with, I am not going to spoil anything about The Place Beyond the Pines, but I'll keep it short and sweet, beginning with what most of this websit... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1990s upstate New York, motorcycle stunt rider Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling) performs in a state fair, riding his bike in a steel globe with two other riders. He's rarely in these parts, traveling from one show to another. But a former hook-up, Romina (Eva Mendes), shows up after Luke's performance, and later he realizes that he fathered a baby boy with her. Though she's with someone else, Luke can't stay away, pledging to find a way to support her and their son, even if it means robbing banks. When one of his heists goes awry, Luke finds himself trapped in a house, with an idealistic rookie cop (Bradley Cooper) who has an infant of his own on the other side of a door. What happens next ties the two forever, a moment that has lasting consequences.

Is it any good?

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is gloomy and depressing. From the moment we glimpse Gosling's chiseled abs as he prepares to perform what we expect to be some momentous feat on his motorcycle -- only to realize that he is but a circus act, literally jailed in a steel globe -- we know we're in for a gut-punch of a movie. Its tale of misplaced fatherhood and wrongs-made-wronger will leave audiences with little hope and much cynicism. It's not an easy movie to watch. But it's powerful, and co-writer-director Derek Cianfrance has a knack for setting the mood (in this case, dreary and hopeless). And his scenes build up the tension so well that you're bound to feel uncomfortable.

Conceived as triptych bound by a tenacious paternal thread, each act/portion of the movie features a strong actor (Gosling is the strongest, if we had to pick, though Cooper is fantastic, too) at its center. But each of the segments could have been an entire movie on its own, and perhaps the filmmakers ought to have chosen. As it stands, The Place Beyond the Pines is overly long at 2 hours and 20 minutes; it's too much of a pretty-good thing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how teens are portrayed in The Place Beyond the Pines. Are the drug and weapon use realistic? What would the real-life consequences be?

  • What do you think of the movie's violence? Is all of it necessary for the story that it's trying to tell?

  • Why do you think Luke does what he does? Does it come from a place of good intentions? What about Avery and both Luke's and Avery's kids?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love drama

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