In the wake of one of the most anticipated movies of the year, ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’, (released 12th of April) which stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes and the Hangover’s Bradley Cooper, I review Gosling’s recent 2011 hit ‘Drive’ which is arguably his best cinematic performance to date.
Dir.: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling; Carey Mulligan; Bryan Cranston
After the success of Derek Cianfrance’s, Blue Valentine (2010), where Ryan Gosling played the lead, Nicolas Winding Refn’s, Drive (2011), ultimately led to Gosling’s certification of Hollywood stardom. The BAFTA nominated feature is a high adrenaline packed crime drama which wonderfully mixes compassion and violence and it’s ‘art-house’ feel increases the emotions felt between Gosling and supporting actress Carey Mulligan. The Hollywood budget doesn’t over shadow the realism in the film and the CGI does not over power the chase/crash scenes. It allows the film to progress at its own tempo with stylistic flair that draws comparisons with Quentin Tarantino when it comes to harmonious violence.
Drive follows Gosling’s character, known only as, ‘The Driver’, a Hollywood stunt driver for B-List movies who spends his life working in a garage run by Shannon (Bryan Cranston), his employer and agent, who has been in his fair share of shady deals. By night he is a getaway driver, with his extreme ability to manoeuvre cars at fast speeds and evading police he is widely known in the criminal underworld as the best getaway driver in the business. Shannon even exclaims, “You put this kid behind the wheel, there’s nothing he can’t do.”. However, besides his supernatural ability to drive cars, much of his personal life is unclear. He lives alone, has no history, no family and leads a very secluded life. The absence of this information leaves a sense of intrigue into his character and the mystery that surrounds him keeps you fixated on the film.
The mysterious character remains silent and carries an air of sincerity with every action as he offers to help next door neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. As he silently falls for the unsuspecting neighbour he becomes part of her life and his connection with son, Benicio (Kaden Leos) shows compassion that was previously absent in Gosling’s character. The missing father, Standard (Oscar Isaac), then returns after a spell in jail only to bring trouble. His previous criminal activity has led to bribery and blackmail, and instead of treating the Driver with suspicion over his visits to see Irene, he asks for his help. After considering the proposal the Driver accepts vowing this will be his last job, clear to the audience he is doing this for the safety of Irene and Benicio.
From here the film digresses into an action packed rampage of ultra violence and the passion that remains burns inside Gosling’s character with reverberating consequences. Refn’s film which is 96 minutes long quickly escalates which compensates for the slow build up which set the foundations for this layered production. This film will keep you on the edge of your seat and it is unlike any driving film that has come before it. Refn’s in-depth research into the history of driving films is clear and he strips away any elements he see’s that could hinder his film and it has come together in the fantastic production that is Drive. If you’re a Gosling fan this is a must-see and he is certainly evolving into a Hollywood superstar.
Gosling’s next film, ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ is due for release on the 12th of April and it will truly determine whether he has asserted himself among Hollywood’s elite. Even more exciting news, Gosling has finished shooting ‘Only God Forgives’, which will come out late 2013, a film that is directed by Refn that sees them team up again after the success of Drive.
4 out of 5.