Director: Nicolas Refn
Review: Michael Middleton
Ryan Gosling gives a stand-out performance in Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest offering. Much has been made of the apparent influence of Western heroes of old on Gosling’s character, but where those characters were often cold and distant, Gosling is mysterious, intriguing and, though a man of few words, his “Driver” is an appealing character for much of the film (right up until, quite literally, he starts kicking heads in).
The violence, when it eventually comes, is a bit much. It doesn’t spoil the film, but does take from the subtlety achieved the first hour. The car chase sequences are well executed, if few and far between. A film I’d reluctantly label an ‘action/thriller’, Drive is a class above its CGI-riddled brethren precisely because of the authenticity of its action, which has drawn favourable comparisons with the 1968 Steve McQueen classic, Bullitt. Coupled with Gosling’s understated and sincere performance, Refn has discovered a killer combination.
Carey Mulligan gives a solid performance as the mother of a young boy; her vulnerability clearly endears her to our hero. The tacit chemistry Mulligan shares with Gosling will leave you wanting to see more. The film also boasts an excellent faux-eighties-electro soundtrack and, along with Miami Vice inspired graphics, the film has a videogame-like quality.
There are some genuinely shocking moments, in the best possible sense of the word shocking. These elements of Noir in the lingering shots of the Driver, the quietude, and the individualistic story all help turn the pure ‘action/thriller’ on the poster into a drama to be taken seriously.