Big Screen :: Drive
November 2nd 2011
Nick La Rosa
I didn't think I'd ever buy Ryan Gosling as a hardarse, but in Drive he is one mean bastard.
After seeing him in movies like Lars and the Real Girl, Blue Valentine, and The Notebook (a film that I don’t mind telling you I despise) I’d always though he was a great actor but a bit of a wet towel. Turns out I was wrong.
In Drive he plays The Driver, a mechanic, stunt car driver for the movies, and expert getaway driver. With all those revenue streams you would think he would be loaded, but he lives in a small flat, next to a single mother played by Carey Mulligan who slowly starts to coax him out of his very thick hard shell. When he thinks he might be able to get her out of a jam using his skills and underworld connections it predictably all goes to hell.
In my Hanna review I completely made up the genre of arthouse action movies. These you could loosely define as genre films designed for niche audiences. It's definitely one of my favorite things. It’s been a great couple of years for arthouse action too, with movies like The American, Hanna and even Red State. Drive fits squarely in this category, and right up the top of the pile.
It’s full of carefully considered characters and brilliantly constructed sequences; the opening getaway is absolutely nail-biting. Special mention must go to Albert Brooks, who is perhaps better known as (Finding) Nemo's Dad. He's playing against friendly, fishy type as a horrible gangster. And Gosling takes his character right to the edge of parody. His performance, loaded with toothpick chewing icy stares and violence, could very well have looked stupid in a lesser movie. But the world created in Drive and the plot powering it is so compelling that he becomes just magnetic to watch.
Credit must go to director Nicholas Winding Refn, who, hilariously, does not have a driver’s license. Drive feels like a natural progression from his last two films, Bronson and Valhalla Rising (really, check them out if you haven’t seen them already). Drive is, above all, a stupendously directed film. Crazy, Stupid, Love spent half its running time desperately trying and failing to make Gosling cool. Drive does it effortlessly. Don’t miss it.