Good looks, great acting ability and all around unmistakable charm would be at the top of Ryan Gosling's list if there wasn't something else – a certain je n'e sais quoi -- about the 30-year-old actor that has women from 15 to 50 going mad over themselves on a daily basis.
And with good reason. He's different. He's deep. He's an artist. He makes interesting movies, whatever your style. As you might have guessed, Drive isn't a two-hour homage to Ryan Gosling, although he should consider making a film like that. (Hope he's reading this!) There's an intricate plot, intense romance and fantastic chase scene to rev everyone's engine into overdrive.
Drive is based on a book of the same name by James Sallis. The story is about a stunt car driver by day who runs a getaway service for outlaws at night. Gosling, who plays the driver -- and never quite gets a real name in the film -- is a quiet, serious, mysterious man (isn't that the best kind…?) who just wants to be, basically, left alone.
Enter cute woman. With a son. Gosling's new neighbor, played by the adorable Carey Mulligan, offers him the connection he's being longing for all his life. He never tells the audience this, as the film is sparse on dialog and even sparser on explaining, but it's clear from the way he responds to her sweetness that he's had it rough in the past. How rough? You won't believe it until about 40 minutes into the film, when this slow cruise hits the gas. Be prepared to see violence, and a lot of it.
Gosling is not afraid of getting his hands dirty, despite the warnings of his boss, played by Bryan Cranston, the character you'll love to trust, although you're not sure why.
When Mulligan's husband, played by Oscar Isaac, gets out of jail and confides in Gosling that he's into a great deal of debt with the wrong people, Gosling agrees to help. This will bring stability to the family. If nothing else, Gosling's skills as a driver will offer his love freedom from a life of crime. But as much as the life for a cowboy is about shooting from the hips, nothing seems to go as planned, and we soon find our gorgeous hero on the lam, and he turns out to be more capable of taking on the bad guys than one might think.
Without giving away too much of the plot, things get heated when tough guys, played by Albert Brooks -- the most surprising and textured part of the film -- and Ron Pearlman -- who's loveably evil in an old school kind of way -- get involved and push this film to the limit.
Drive has a very classic western style. It uses modern themes to bounce off an old archetype of the unsung hero who rides into town to save the day before he's off on his horse (or Mustang, as this film might have it) to do another good deed, in another town, for another woman. If you've seen Shane or Pale Rider, or any of a number of spaghetti westerns, you might pick up some of the classic moments that have become so true to American cinema.
The mood is nostalgic, a late 70s – early 80s feeling, with a bit of surreal set design. There are times you're not exactly sure what era you're in, but others when the present -- texting, cell phones and extreme violence -- lets you know this is way past a western in the golden age of Hollywood.
The music suggests a sense of yearning for the character and the love of cars contributes to the emotional promise the film sets out with. You will feel something, but it might not be what you expect.
Surprising, bloody, romantic and dark, Drive revs on all cylinders for men and women. Those who like heists, cars and unrequited love, whichever gender you are, there is something for you.
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