Astrology: Film: ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ (2013)

Focus Features

The core of The Place Beyond the Pines, directed by Derek Cianfrance, is Neptunian deceit and Saturnine responsibility. The question the movie asks is how far can the movie’s two male protagonists push or disregard those energies and get away with it.

Structured in three parts, the movie introduces Luke Glanton (Ryan Gosling), an ace motorcycle stuntman who performs at traveling carnivals. First seen with his back to the camera, Luke walks to the “globe of death,” a spherical cycling cage, like a rat wheel, in which the vehicles literally go round and round to nowhere. It’s an apt description of Luke’s life. However, when he pays a visit to Romina (Eva Mendes), the woman he romanced the last time the carnival was in Schenectady (the Iroquois word for “the place beyond the pines”), Luke learns that his fling produced a son, Jason.

Suddenly fueled by Saturnine principles of taking on responsibility, commitment and putting down roots to support his offspring, Luke abandons his itinerant life. Highly suggestible (another hallmark of Neptune), he misguidedly pairs up with Robin (Ben Mendelsohn) to rob banks, using his motorcycle as the getaway.

Wildly successful at his rules-busting criminal activities, Luke eventually has a run-in with Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper), a rookie cop sworn to uphold Saturn’s mission to execute justice and maintain order. However, the tragic circumstances of this connection between the two men steers Avery – his story is the movie’s second part – into a life of deceit, the same Neptunian energy that had consumed Luke. Turns out that, when it comes to self-mastery (Saturn) and fudging reality (Neptune) these two utterly different men are equally adept at self-destruction.

In the final third of the movie, the two men’s teenaged sons – Luke’s Jason (Dane DeHaan) and Avery’s AJ (Emory Cohen) – take over. How they’ve turned out – druggy, rootless, undisciplined and uncommitted – parallels the Neptunian and Saturnine themes of deceit, absent-dad and disregard for authority associated with their birth fathers. Romina doesn’t get off  so easily, either – she has complied with Luke’s demand to not tell Jason who his real father is, thereby making her complicit in the lie.

The Place Beyond the Pines is an in-depth look at severely compromised father-parenting. In one remarkable scene, the centerpiece is a ledge of hardened soil, in which a tree’s gnarled roots are exposed. Easy to see legacy via a cross-section. Much more difficult when you’re pitch black in soil. Where’s light – Gosling’s “Luke” – when you need it?

Astrology Film Rating: ♄♆ (Saturn, Neptune)

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