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The Place Beyond the Pines
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: March 29, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: August 6, 2013
- Cast: Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ryan Gosling
- Director: Derek Cianfrance
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference