Ryan Gosling in ‘Drive’ Delivered the Nostalgic, Artistic Goods

ryan gosling in drive, in the garage, when he sees irene

screenshot. © FilmDistrict

Ryan Gosling plays a lonely Hollywood stuntman driver (aptly named “Driver”) who at night dangerously works as a Los Angeles wheelman for hire. To clarify, local criminals hire him to work purely as their driver while they engage in robbery, so they don’t have to worry about how to escape the scene, leaving it in the hands of the experienced Driver.

Based off the book by James Sallis, the movie follows Driver and his newfound affection for his neighbor (Irene, played by Carey Mulligan) and her son, which ultimately gets him involved in her husband’s (Standard, played by Oscar Isaac) troubles with the local mob. We watch as Driver transforms from a seemingly bland and boring character into a kick-ass, emotionally-stricken man out to protect Irene and her son from the consequences of Standard’s involvement with the mob.

Although the plot and premise seem simple, the characters are complex; you see a great range of emotions from Driver. From charming, innocent smiles to throat-slashing angry eyes, Gosling showed us what it’s like to truly be an on-screen artist. And the boy, Benicio (Kaden Leos), is going to be another child prodigy. What a cute kid.

I haven’t read the book, but you can definitely tell that this movie came from a piece of literature, or at least that’s what the director wanted to qualify. There were instances of symbolism, most notably Driver’s jacket, that carried your interest throughout the movie. I appreciate movies that make you wonder. This is definitely what I wanted out of an action film: depth.

Visually, the cinematography and editing could not get any better, in my opinion. It reminds me of when movie-making was actually an art. Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, who isn’t entirely new to the scene, but definitely not a house-hold name yet, the film brought back some nostalgic qualities. Action movies these days definitely lost a lot of charm over the years. Great mixture of shots and editing that gave the movie several layers and dimensions.

What really struck at me hard was the music composition. It brought a major element to the film. A lot of composers have told me before that if you noticed the music, then the composer did a bad job complementing the film. This time, I disagreed. I definitely noticed the music, and if anything, it really added to the experience of the story.

The audience in the theater would agree with me here – you really like Driver, and you want him to succeed. You root for him, wanting him to kick some mafia ass. That’s a connection to an action hero you would want. There were even points you would want to cry for him, telling him, it’s okay Driver. You’ll be okay.

Before I end this review, VIEWER BEWARE! There is a lot of blood and gore. Doesn’t really bother me much, but it did bother my date just a tad bit. Never had I thought killing could be so visually stunning (well, except for Tarantino’s films). At the end of the movie, though, I did have the feeling that I should keep a knife with me, just in case…

Grade: A+


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