One of the Hollywood's most cherished archetypes is the sad-eyed man of few words. They might be hit-men, cowboys, or loners, but despite their chilly and reserved characters, the mysteries of them mesmerizes us rather than repel. The movie "Drive," with Ryan Gosling's slow, burning performance serves as an understated ode to this treasured character.
'Drive,' which won the best director award for Nicolas Winding Refn in Cannes last year, is so engrossing, filled with nuance and subtlety rarely found in muscle-car dramas. If you are squeamish, then it's best for you to avoid this ride. It has well acted, stylistic, and incredibly violent sequences.
PlotRyan Gosling plays an nameless loner and driver who arrives into Los Angeles six years prior. He has a great skill for fixing and driving cars, and so he gets a job in the garage of Shannon (Bryan Cranston). He also does a part time job of a movie stunt driver, loned out by Shannon on local film sets, and drives getaway cars for crooks, who lack their own wheels. Gosling's "Driver" comes across and takes a quiet interest in Irene (Carey Mulligan), a pretty apartment-building neighbor who lives with her son while she waits for her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac) to finish out a prison sentence.
Shannon dreams about the 'Driver's' potential as a professional on the race circuit, so he convinces a gangster, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), to back him with a race car. Bernie's loudmouth partner Nino (Ron Perlman) isn't so sure about the venture. Through chance our protagonist and Irene begin to see more and more of one another and though he is a man of few words, we can tell without hesitation that he really likes her.
The Driver finds himself in an embarrassing position when the husband, Standard is released from prison and comes home. Then his hotheaded generosity puts him in a perilous position opposite ruthless crooks who are using him in ways he can't comprehend. That peril leads to mayhem and car chases with violent consequences.
AnalysisAs the film plays out, Ryan Gosling seems to mature as an actor minute by minute. Not many actors of the current generation have been able to hold the screen by working in silences, like Gosling. His work here is a mixture of the toughness of Steve McQueen and the commitment of Christian Bale. All the supporting performances in 'Drive' are flawless. Carey Mulligan plays Irene with an air of bittersweet expectancy. Albert Brooks, who plays the thug, is both the evil and essence of simplicity. His character believes that violence is the only way to solve problems.
Danish film-maker Nicolas Winding Refn, known for his 'Pusher' trilogy, paces the film as if he is shifting a fine-tuned car. The movie idles here and there, then switches its gears, yet the director never loses its control. He enhances the movie's gritty violent scenes into poetic flights of fancy. In the film’s most memorable elevator sequence, Refn achieves this, where the Driver and Irene indulge in a lengthy, long-delayed kiss that seems to literally stop time, and the reverie is broken only when the Driver pulls away and viciously, excessively stomps in the skull of a hit-man sent to kill them. The screenplay, written by Hossein Amini was adapted from a 2005 novel by the crime writer, poet, and musician James Sallis.
The appeal of "Drive" is not in its story, which is rather familiar and predictable, but in the narrative mode, the visual style, and the high-level technical execution of some thrilling chases and action set-pieces. Drive combines the visual schemes of conventional B-grade Hollywood action movies and those of European art films. The movie takes its characters as seriously as its shootouts, car chases and fights.
Sleek, Sophisticated, and well-acted, 'Drive' provides visceral pleasures without sacrificing art. It's a crime fest for art-house movie-lovers.
Drive - IMDb