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Friday, September 16, 2011




Real Human Being, And A Real Hero

Tight-lipped. Despite the fast cars, the lurid colors of night time Los Angeles, and the frequent stains of viscera all across the screen, my lasting impression of Drive is the unnamed Driver, Ryan Gosling, tight-lipped. It's not that Gosling says nothing, he has dialogue, but there's always an extended bout of silence before he pries open his perpetual smirk to speak. He considers his words carefully and tells you what you need to know, if that. Drive is a stylish, meditative action yarn in which Gosling... drives. This is his description of himself and his sole purpose of being. By day a mechanic and part time Hollywood stunt driver, by night, a disciplined, professional wheel man for local criminals ("You seem like a pain in the ass to work with..."),  Gosling's the best to ever... drive, according to his handler Bryan Cranston. Strange that while this movie called Drive does have car chases, damned exciting ones, they feel unusually brief, with a collision and vehicle flipping usually wrapping up the action. Gosling is even more dangerous when not in a car, when he's forced to get his hands and feet and other body parts dirty. And by dirty, I mean soaked in blood. He wears both a crimson mask and a rubber mask at different points. Gosling seems to exist purely to sit behind the wheel of a car, but he does find something else to care for: his next door neighbor, the competitively tight lipped Carey Mulligan, and her young son. With Mulligan, Gosling finds an ersatz instant family, and his tight lipped smirk grows into a smile for a while, until her jailbird husband Oscar Isaac comes home. Isaac pulls Gosling into a pawn shop heist to pay off a prison debt that goes completely sideways, which ruins what little shambles of a life Gosling had going. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks are partners in crime who come after Gosling, while Christina Hendricks has a ride along that ends in a splatter. Though abundant in tension and breakneck violence, Drive feels lean and mean (a bit too lean) in the story department, relying on some engaging but rather on-the-nose musical choices and the eye-popping visual stylings of director Nicolas Winding Refn to shift it into overdrive. Gosling's tight lipped Driver seems to inspire tight-lippedness in others around him, including a roomful of topless strippers who stare coldly and tight-lipped as Gosling tortures one of his betrayers in their dressing room. Strippers - the last folks you'd expect to have tight lips.