By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 9 out of 10
My list includes Johnny Depp, Russell Crowe and Steve Carrell. Tom Hanks used to be on top of my list, but his recent work has been lacking.
What list am I talking about? The list of actors or actresses that I will watch no matter what movie they are in. The lucky few who make my list have a proven track record of making films I enjoy and that’s the only requirement for making my list.
After watching Drive recently, my list expanded to include Ryan Gosling.
Gosling is probably best known for his work in The Notebook and Remember the Titans. While he was enjoyable in both of those films, his roles in films like Blue Valentine and Half Nelson really made me take notice of his acting chops.
For all his talent, I felt that he needed to branch out and do more mainstream movies so the average audience member could put the talented actor on their respective lists.
He answered the bell with Crazy, Stupid, Love. and more recently, Drive, which is a spectacular film.
There is so much that “Drive” does right that I won’t even delve into the plot, other than to say it follows Driver (Gosling), a mechanic/stunt man/wheelman, who befriends (and probably more) his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her kid. I had no idea what direction this film was heading in and that was for the best, so I want to make sure nothing of the plot is revealed here.
From the opening credits that transport the audience to the 1980s, it is obvious that this film is different, but in a good way. It is different because you can’t just peg it as an action film or a romantic film. It takes different elements from those and other genres and blends it into something that feels new and fresh.
What makes this film so memorable is that it works on every level. When the romantic aspect is at the forefront, it is believable and not forced. While dialogue between Irene and Driver is limited, there is obviously something there and that is a credit to director to Nicholas Windling Refn. When it is time for action, Drive keeps you on the edge of your seat with grotesque violence and smart car chases.
Another strength of Drive is the cast. From Bryan Cranston to Albert Brooks to Ron Perlman, the cast is top notch and everyone has their moment to shine. Brooks in particular stuck out to me. Every line and scene he was in, he took command of, and it was good to see him back on the silver screen.
As you could probably tell by my introduction, the star of this film is Gosling. He doesn’t get much to work with in terms of dialogue, but he doesn’t need it. His ability to speak to the camera without saying a word makes this movie what it is and that isn’t even the most enjoyable aspect of his performance. What I enjoyed the most was his transformation into a true person I would fear. I have seen a lot of sides of Gosling in films, but never the side portrayed when he puts on his driving gloves and is ready to deliver a can of you-know-what.
Even though I loved Drive, I realize that it isn’t for everyone. There are some extremely brutal deaths in the film and when there is a film where the main protagonist is an anti-hero it is understandable that people may not like that.
If none of that bothers you, however, Drive gives movie-goers something not offered up much anymore — originality. So go enjoy a fresh film and prepare yourself to add another name to that list.