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Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver for movies by day and moonlights as a wheelman for criminals by night. Though a loner by nature, “Driver” can’t help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), a young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband. After a heist goes wrong, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman). Soon he realizes the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash and is forced to shift gears and go on the offense.
Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn makes an electrifying return to Hollywood filmmaking with this 1980s-style noir, right down to the synth score and neon-pink credits (he released his American debut, Fear X, in 2003). Ryan Gosling puts his implacable quality to good use as an L.A. stunt driver whose world crumbles when he falls for the wrong woman (Carey Mulligan). Irene is hardly a femme fatale, but her incarcerated husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is another story. When her car breaks down, Driver recommends the auto shop where he works with Shannon (Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston). The two start spending time together, but then Standard returns from prison. Driver keeps his distance until he discovers that Standard owes protection money. If he doesn't pay up, Irene and their son will suffer, so Driver offers to handle the wheel during a heist, a job with which he has more than a little experience, as the riveting opening sequence proves. While they plan their score with Blanche (Mad Men's Christina Hendricks), Shannon makes a deal with a couple of gangsters (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman), but when the plans collide: all hell breaks loose. In adapting James Sallis's novel, Refn builds to a bittersweet denouement, though the bursts of bloodshed will test even the hardiest of viewers. At its best, though, Drive is every bit as gripping as Reagan-era crime dramas like To Live and Die in L.A. and Thief. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Under The Hood
Driver and Irene
Cut To The Chase
Drive Without A Driver: Interview With Nicolas Winding Refn
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In the case of Ryan Gosling I'm still not sure he can act and there are no recognizable humans in the screenplay. I had heard that this was Gosling's year. He is simultaneously in two big popular movies. I chose this one because it is the one that doesn't also star George Clooney. After watching Gosling in this film - I'm still not sure, can he act? The character he plays is so odd as to be unrecognizable as a person.
After about ten minutes into the movie Gosling still hadn't said a word on camera. I thought to myself, maybe now that he's this hot new movie star he will soon move up to speaking parts. Yes I know he's trying to be cool, but he's so emotionally unavailable it just comes off as robotic. I've been alive a long time and I've met a lot of people, the only people I have ever met who were this odd were those guys I met that summer when I worked in a mental institution. I have read about weird loners like this in some true crime accounts of serial killers. Gosling plays the driver as a very strange dude indeed.
This movie makes you think, or rather this movie gives you a lot of time to think because of all the extremely slow scenes in which nothing happens. You start to think about other getaway driver movies. This film is very similar in many ways to the Ryan O'Neal film "The Driver". The protagonist in that film also didn't say much. In contrast Jason Statham in the "The Transporter" was rather chatty. In each of these movies the dramatic arc is that getaway driver is set up as a quiet rather precise sort of fellow who suddenly reveals himself to be a killing machine. Statham - who was an Olympic athlete - takes off his shirt and beats the snot out of a dozen guys at once. It's all very amusing if not very plausible. Ryan O'Neal - who was a former professional boxer - is more credible as a guy who explodes into violence. Another similar film was James Caan in "Thief" where he plays another one of these cool self controlled professional criminals who in the final reels reveals a hitherto unsuspected capacity for violence.
So this movie is a genre movie and Gosling's driver is someone we have seen before. But each movie must top the previous movie (some Hollywood law) and so Gosling when he is cool in the early scenes is beyond normal cool - he's catatonic. And when in the later scenes when he violent he's psychotic. In the character's defense I must reveal that everyone else in this movie is also psychotic. He fits right in.
What's so odd about the character? First of all he cares nothing for money. In the previous three films I cited the drivers were always very careful about money. This seems reasonable. They are all criminals aiding robbers. People rob for money. But Gosling's character is indifferent to money. There are at least three scenes in which he establishes that he is not interested in money. What then does he care about? Not people. He's very much a loner with no friends. Of course it's hard to make friends if you never speak. He's also not interested in women at least in any kind of sexual way. He has a platonic relationship with his next door neighbor but he's not a lover - more like an old friend of the family. The romance in this film rings very false.
What does he care about? Well, he seems to like to kill people in grotesque ways.
Steve McQueen often played cool quiet characters. Indeed he was the first choice for O'Neal's part in "The Driver", but McQueen was still emotionally available. He communicated to the audience that he felt things and cared about things even when he didn't show much. Of course he never was saddled with a character as bizarre as that of Gosling's driver. So maybe it isn't Gosling at all. Maybe it's just the screenplay that's so peculiar. Maybe Gosling played it exactly right. In that case I take back every criticism of Gosling himself and transfer it all to the screenwriter. In any case this film stinks.