The Place Beyond The Pines is a glacial-paced movie that you yearn to move faster, but realise that by doing so, loses the dexterity with which the film is built upon. Its the kind of movie that has to move slowly because it draws out the repercussions of a single event that haunts the characters' lives as they move on from the said incident.
Ultimately, I feel that the film is based upon the concept of redemption even though the bleakness of the situation makes it seem as though the world out there is a dark, dangerous place without hope. Ryan Gosling's character seeks to provide for his son, with whom he has no prior knowledge of. To do so, he thought, why not rob a bank? And therein lies his misfortune of getting caught after one too many tries. After a hostage situation in a perfectly quaint suburban home, Gosling's character, Luke, knows that he's got no way out, and was shot by a police officer, played by Bradley Cooper.
Cooper's character, Avery, then suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because he also has a baby boy and he cannot shake off that feeling that he's caused someone's child to be an orphan. Add to that a series of police corruption, and America the beautiful isn't that pretty after all. The two baby boys grew up, and they turn into sullen, drug-taking boys, who's lives get intertwined.
This is where I feel that the film jumped off the railings a little bit because the flash forward was abrupt and sudden and completely unexplained. In one scene, you have these two cute little boys, and the next, they're the brash-talking, drug-taking, troubled teenagers. But I can live with that since the actors were really good. Luke's son found out about his father through newspaper articles and clippings, and sought to take revenge on Avery. But he is a boy after all, and could not go through with the slaying, and ultimately runs away. He just wants to be closer to his father, and emulates his father's love for motorbikes. So, in a way, the movie ends in a full circle that gives you a little bit of hope after all.