Sep 16, 2011
Ryan Gosling is quickly becoming one of the finest new actors working today. Not bad when you consider he first gained attention as a Mousekeeter on the Mickey Mouse Club. His list of characters includes a crazy neo-Nazi, a junior high teacher/drug addict, an emotionally-wounded loner who falls in love with a blow-up sex doll, a slimy lounge lizard, a cold-blooded teen-age killer and a romantic leading man.
Now you can add a chilling performance in “Drive” to the list of characters Gosling has brought to life on the screen. He’s a movie stunt car driver and garage mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver for criminals…and the only name we get for the lead character is “Driver.” He’s a mystery and Gosling makes us work to figure out what makes him tick.
Driver comes across as a very cool and precise character, able to mix the best action-movie car chase skills with a savvy “cat and mouse” sense of when to punch the accelerator and when to back quietly into the shadows and let the police spotlights pass around you. Gosling infuses the character with an eerie calmness amidst the chaos going on around him. But there’s a chilling scene early on that hints at the violence lurking inside this calm and peaceful exterior. And when Driver finally explodes, the violence is emotionally shattering.
Carey Mulligan (An Education, Never Let Me Go) plays Driver’s next-door neighbor, Irene. She’s raising her young son, Benecio (Kaden Lewis), while waiting for her husband to be released from prison. Driver develops a connection with Irene and Benecio that begins to pull him out of his world of isolation and silence. Mulligan and Benecio quickly warm up to the sullen loner.
The story shifts when Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison and returns home. Standard owes money to a group of violent thugs who threaten Irene and Benecio, so Driver agrees to help him with a simple pawnshop robbery to get the family clear of danger. This is where the story shifts into high gear and the violent demons lurking inside Driver make themselves fully known.
The movie is a blend of noir and moody 80’s crime film, full of shadows and threats with a haunting synthesizer-heavy soundtrack.
Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t rush the action and gives his cast plenty of room to work as they set the stage for the movie’s brutal third act. And what a cast. Gosling and Mulligan are joined by strong performances from Albert Brooks (The In-Laws, Finding Nemo) as a small-time mob boss, Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Season of the Witch) as Brook’s partner-in-crime, and Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Driver’s garage mechanic boss.
This is a movie that leaves you with a lot of unanswered questions, especially about the enigmatic lead character. The violence is quick, but very realistic and extremely bloody. If you can get past those disturbing scenes, you’ll marvel at Gosling’s portrayal that cements his status as a great actor who is poised to take his craft to the next level.