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Review: Drive

daniel cohen gives a glowing review of the Ryan Gosling thriller …

Plot: A Driver (Ryan Gosling) who works as a part time Hollywood stunt driver gets involved in a dangerous robbery after trying to protect his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son (Kaden Leos).

Within the first 10 seconds of Drive, director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising) sets up the mood and atmosphere of this movie perfectly. Wow. This is an incredible film. I’m not sure who the MVP goes to: The director, or its star. But regardless, I can now definitely say, Ryan Gosling has ‘arrived.’

There have been a number of great performances this year, and the Awards season is still very young, but I’m certainly throwing Gosling’s name into the Oscar hat. He’s awesome. The guy he plays (known only as ‘Driver’) is an insanely engaging character, and he barely talks. The character is more mysterious than Boba Fett. Gosling takes the ‘just look intense’ motif to a whole other level. You are completely glued to him. He’s so quiet and contemplative, intense and scary, yet also vulnerable. All of these emotions are thrown at you instantaneously just by looking at Gosling’s facial expressions. It reminded me a lot of Al Pacino in the first Godfather right before he shoots the two guys at the restaurant. Now that’s acting.

And let’s not forget about the other performances. Everyone brings their A-game. Bryan Cranston. Albert Brooks. And how can you not love Ron Perlman? He’s not in it too much, but he makes the most of his scenes whenever he’s on, I can promise you that. Carey Mulligan is also great as the female lead, the Driver’s neighbor Irene. The romantic angle between her and Driver works on all levels, and is truly the heart of the film. You buy their bond from the moment they look at each other for the first time in the elevator. This movie really is dependent on intense staring contests, but it works 500% of the time.

As great as all these performances are though, the star of the movie is really the director, Nicolas Winding Refn. The first scene is magnificent. Trust me: you’ve never seen a car chase like the one he delivers here. Holy matza ball soup, it’s intense. And that’s really the mood of the entire movie: it’s just intense, even the simple talking scenes. The music and score also add to the atmosphere significantly. The first thing I did when I got home from watching this was download the soundtrack. Cliff Martinez is the composer, and coincidentally enough, he scored the music for last week’s Contagion, which doesn’t hold a candle to the music here.

The only criticism I have for the film is that the pacing is fairly slow. I think the long stare downs and static shots of people looking intense may irritate some moviegoers,and there is a couple times where the camera stays on maybe two seconds too long, even coming close to looking comedic at times. But like I said, a lot of that drives the movie, and it works pretty damn well overall.

When Drive ended, it really hit me hard. There’s not a whole lot going on, but the character Gosling plays is all you need. He’s one of the most compelling characters I’ve seen in quite sometime. It’s a simple story, yet it feels like something we haven’t seen in a long time. I can’t wait to see this again.

Rating: 9 out of 10 (OMG)

For a completely polar opposite review of Drive, check out Maxwell Barna’s review posted Monday.

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.


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