Film Review: Ryan Gosling Stars in Instant Classic ‘Drive’

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CHICAGO – Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” is an amazing thriller, a modern examination of heroism filtered through the fairy tale culture of the underbelly of the movie machine that is easily one of the most memorable and effective films of not just this year but the last several. The Ryan Gosling vehicle (no pun intended) came to U.S. critics with a ton of buzz after a Best Director win and rapturous praise at the Cannes Film Festival. This is one of those few times where such a film lived up to massive expectations. Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

Never named throughout the film and credited only as Driver (Gosling), the protagonist of “Drive” purposefully comes off like an old-fashioned movie icon not unlike Steve McQueen. He’s a stunt man who also serves as a getaway driver for criminals. He is stoic, matter-of-fact, and instinctual. In a riveting opening sequence, he informs his clients that they have his services with the motor running outside of their chosen destination for five minutes, no more. He doesn’t want to know what’s going on. He doesn’t want any personal interaction. And he won’t wait an extra second. Driver is a man who is either acting or stationary. There is no in-between. He’s either driving or he’s not, and this either/or, black/white mentality will inform the decisions he makes throughout the film.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Drive” in our reviews section.

Those decisions start when he makes contact with the lovely new single mother down the hall, a sweetheart named Irene (Carey Mulligan). It feels like Driver has had very little human interaction outside of that he happens upon through his dual jobs as a stunt man and a mechanic, both under the tutelage and mentorship of the troubled Shannon (Bryan Cranston). After a few chance meetings and help with her disabled vehicle, Driver gets close enough to Irene to meet her son and discover that her baby daddy Standard (Oscar Isaac) happens to be in jail, but will be coming home soon.

Meanwhile, Shannon is getting involved again with some shady gangsters headed by slick Bernie (Albert Brooks), who gets his muscle from the obnoxious Nino (Ron Perlman). Bernie finances a new vehicle which Driver will race, but that plotline quickly gets discarded when Standard comes home from the clink and informs our hero that he’s being pressured by jailhouse acquaintances to do “one more job” involving a pawn shop. To keep Irene and her son from potential danger, Driver agrees to help and a lovely woman named Blanche (Christina Hendricks) comes along for the ride. After the job goes horribly awry, things get very, very complicated.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Drive” review.

“Drive” stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks, and Ron Perlman. It was written by Hossein Amini and directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. It is rated R and opens on September 16th, 2011.

Photo credit: Film District

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