First of all buy plenty of pop corn and diet coke, or better yet go to one of the cinemas, like we prefer, where they offer a compliment of adult beverages. Once The Place Beyond the Pines starts rolling, you are in for the long hall - 140 minutes. (Yes, 2 hours and 20 minutes.) Now, given Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are in it, my attention was peaked when I first saw the trailer. Then came the reviews, which were mixed.
As Gambit points out, the film is basically three stories. It is a tale of two generations - a story of love and loss and desperation, one of sheer determination, where two worlds come together then come part, then meet again 16 years later. If I am being vague, it is the best I can do. Although the reviews and the trailers will tell you the story line, there is much more depth than a 200 words can give it justice.
The opening scene has Luke (Gosling), with his hair (bleached) blonde and his taunt body ("photo shopped" as Emma Stone said it best in "Crazy Stupid Love") covered with tattoos walking out of a trailer down the midway of a carnival onto a motorcycle and driving into a large enclosed steel cage, the "Cage of Death". There he proceeds to perform a death defying motorcycle stunt with two other drivers where the three drive around the small cage at a break neck speed, crossing paths, but never colliding. I can only best describe it as a combination of Russian Roulette with motorcycles in an enclosed space.
And, that sets the tone of the movie, characters crossing paths at dangerous times. The story moves frenetically at break neck speeds like Luke's bike, and then crawls, as if catching its breath, while filling in details of the story line. Then it picks up pace again. Consider the factors thrown together: a loner, a motorcycle, a mother and son, love, a rookie cop, another son, guilt, a bitter wife, robberies, corruption, politics, and drugs. And, they all fit together, in a nice box.
As we walked out of the theater, my DH commented about how long the film was and how slow it was at times. I agreed with him on both counts. However, upon reflection, there was nothing they could have cut out. The story needs that much time to wind out, so that at the end, no one can say, well I wonder what . . .
I recommend the movie. But, as I said initially, it is not for impatient. We picked a rainy Sunday afternoon when we were willing to give 140 minutes of our attention.