Ryan Gosling is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. Who can forget his performance as a drug addict teacher in Half Nelson or as a delusional guy in love with a life-size doll in Lars and the Real Girl? And then there was his amazing work opposite Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine. Well, we can now add Drive to the list of his accomplishments.
In this movie, he plays a guy credited only as 'Driver'. Perhaps that's all we need to know. He drives, either on a Hollywood set by day or in the occasional heist by night. In a rare moment outside his car, he falls in love with the woman next door (Carey Mulligan from An Education) and forms a bond with her young son. But then her husband gets out of jail and comes home with trouble in tow. Now it's up to Driver to do what he does best to bring back the happiness he was just starting to enjoy.
You'll either love it or hate it
Drive is the kind of movie you'll either totally love or totally hate. The opening car chase is so brilliantly shot that many an action movie junkie might be fidgeting for more. Yes, there are a few more, but they aren't the focus of the film. Nicholas Winding Refn ('Bronson'), who was personally selected by Gosling and went on to win the Best Director prize at Cannes, slows down the action instead.
It's counterintuitive until you see how wonderfully it works. You just aren't expecting the violence to go from 0 to Tarantino in the time it takes to stab someone in the eye with a fork. (It gets really graphic, so please stay away if you're squeamish. All your writhing and shrieks will simply annoy everyone else in the cinema.)
The movie might also frustrate those who can't deal with anything incomplete. We know nothing about who Driver is, where he's from, or where he's going next. Why is he so obsessed with punctuality? And why is he prepared to risk so much for a woman he barely knows? Simply put, what's driving him?
By the time the film reaches its abrupt ending, these questions remain. Part of this is because screenwriter Hossein Amini (Oscar-nominated for Wings of the Dove) removed much of the back story that was present in the James Sallis novella. It's also because Gosling, much like in All Good Things, has such an amazing ability to hide what the character thinks or feels. Watching him chew on a toothpick and flash that trademark smirk makes you wonder if he's about to burst out laughing or completely explode. It could honestly go either way.
Again, I suppose we don't need to know much other than the fact that the guy drives. Perhaps it's because the car is the only place he can find peace. Perhaps it's the only place he feels in control. Or perhaps it's enough just to do whatever you're doing at any given moment and let that be the end of it.
As much as we like to deny it (and pretend that it somehow works), multitasking really sucks. That's why there's something undeniably serene about sitting behind the wheel, without a blaring radio or ringing phone. Take away the distractions and you finally understand why it's more than enough to simply shut up and drive.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes Age Restriction: 16 LVN
Eugene graduated from the University of Cape Town with distinctions in financial accounting and classical piano. He then spent over two-and-half years working in branding and communications at two of South Africa's top market research companies. Eugene also spent over three-and-a-half years at an eLearning start-up, all while building his business as an award-winning writer.
Visit www.eugeneyiga.com, follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter, or email moc.agiyenegue@olleh to say, um, hello.
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