QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
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The Place Beyond The Pines

It's very easy to see this as not one movie, but two or three movies. There is a single character connecting everything, and a single concern, but much of the story is not from from that character's point of view.

To me I see this story as a hinge. The story starts off on a flange, reaches a pin, rotates, and goes off on another flange. The two flanges, and the pin, all have separate main characters.

The first flange is very reminescent of Drive, both have Ryan Gosling as silent figure with a complex moral code, and as an expert in motor vehicles. In Drive, it is car repair and racing, here it is motorcycle driving, with some car repair. Drive has Gosling's character take in interest in protecting a woman with a child he meets living on the same floor of the apartment building. Place has Gosling's character, Luke, learn he has fathered a son, and suddenly he wants to be there for the kid, even though the mom is not so interested in that.

In the pin, the story switches to a newly introduced character, Avery Cross, a man who has a chance encounter with Luke. Avery and Luke have similarites, most importantly: age and baby boys of the same age. The story of the pin is short, full of uneasy tension.

The second flange is fifteen years later, the present time, and switches to the two sons, now in in the same high school. Both are drug users and have other behavior problems, but one is much more boisterous.

The common concern throughout the movie is fatherhood and what it means to the fathers and the sons. There isn't a single message about fatherhood, but three outcomes, including Avery with his own dad.

The movie on the whole is dark, and might not be a good choice for a father's day outing, despite the unifying theme. I enjoyed it, and would recommend it, but some people I saw it with found the complexity of the story daunting and the story too dark.

Four out of five moral lapses.

The Place Beyond The Pines at IMDB

Drive (2011) at IMDB

Final thought: motherhood is a surprizingly small concern here