Film Review – Drive

It’s the beginning of Awards Season, so I thought it was time to finally catch up on some acclaimed films from 2011 that I’d missed. Following terrific turns this year in both Crazy Stupid Love and The Ides Of March, I thought I’d start with this Ryan Gosling vehicle. No pun intended.
Having heard a mixture of reviews, words like “brutal” and “slow” rarely fit well together, so my curiosity has been piqued for some time. Truthfully, how anybody could be bored by this is a mystery to me. Yes, it has its share of contemplative moments, but very few, very brief and somewhat essential for the development of the relationship between Gosling’s character and his neighbour, played with an emotional intensity by Carey Mulligan.
Not that things take a while to get going, either. The opening scene is exhilarating, and is one of several visceral action sequences. It’s once Christina Hendricks appears that the film moves into full throttle as Gosling’s ordered life is turned upside down and he decides to risk everything to protect Mulligan and her son. From hereon, the violence is unflinching and, indeed, brutal- though mostly off-screen. Just.
Gosling makes for an unusual action hero- wiry, rather than bulky; youthful, rather than rugged; but you never find yourself questioning his capabilities. His character is something of an enigma- at times, downright antisocial; other times, playfully charming; mostly, emotionless and impassive. And it takes a deft hand to switch between these modes convincingly, and Gosling achieves it with aplomb.
A special shout-out to director Nicolas Winding Refn, too, who clearly has a fondness for 80s movies, with his use of synth pop and neon pink script font. A man after my own heart…

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