Director Nicolas Winding Refn throws us a curve ball with Drive, one of those films that we just didn’t expect. But we aren’t complaining. Don’t expect a high octane, Drive is instead a beautifully poised thriller, right from the starting line.
Refn constructs the opening scene to perfection showing Ryan Gosling’s character’s moonlight job as a getaway driver. Refn weaves together shots of Gosling’s solid face, the trademark toothpick and the pursuing police, like a beautifully knitted jumper. “This game is coming down to the wire”, flows from radio sports commentary, and really sums up the tense and unsettling vibe of the sequence.
Refn, probably best known for the Pusher Trilogy and the 2008 biopic Bronson, brings a European finesse to the brutal mean streak in Drive. There is something classy about being stabbed in the eye with a fork. The success of the violence in this film comes not from the fact that these scenes are borderline Tarantino gory, but from their briefness and unexpectedness. Refn does not make the action drag on but instead inserts it after moments of suspense. Riding an elevator will never be the same again.
Gosling is brilliant in Drive and is maturing into a star actor, especially with The Ides of March right around the corner. Heplays the strong silent type with great intensity, even finishing a job, stepping out of the car, and flinging his coat over his shoulder. Cool as you like. There is a control about Gosling’s acting that mirrors the skill of his driving. He effortlessly switches from
straight-faced driver, to man with the killer moves. Whether he is smashing in a hand with a hammer or orchestrating a full impact collision, Gosling does it with a real fire in the belly.
And then there’s the lovey dovey side of Gosling’s character with his eye on girl next door (literally) Irene (Carey Mulligan) whose husband is in jail. The interplay between Gosling and Mulligan is perfect, played through silence and facial expression. What is not said is more important. Plus when Gosling is with Mulligan, it is one of the only times he cracks that awkward but loveable smile.
But Drive is definitely a team effort as the rest of the cast pitch in too. Hellboy Ron Perlman is imposing even without the red make up, and Albert Brooks ditches his funny bone for a brutal side to terrifying effect.
Drive zooms onto the scene and is clearly on track for great success. Are there awards in the midst? Who knows? But the film cruises past the finish line in emphatic fashion, finishing with a solid four stars.
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It’s a political drama (don’t start yawning) about, well, the politics of an election campaign. Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) is a determined press secretary, who together with Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), is set on getting his guy Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) into office. Myers is excellent at what he does and even the opposition Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) tries to get his hands on him. Its all politics as Myers discovers forcing him to question his allegiance. It all gets very tense.
The Ides of March has been adapted from a play called Farragut North by Beau Willimon, who together with Clooney and Grant Heslov, wrote the screenplay.
Clooney says that The Ides of March has global appeal. He told Parade, “Everywhere it’s played, they think it’s got something to do with their politics. When I had to pitch this movie, I would say, ‘Okay, here’s why it’s universal and not just an American film about delegate counts.’ I pitched the idea of a morality tale.
The plethora of wonderful actors boosts the film’s appeal. Boasting an impressive three Oscar winners, two Oscar nominees, one Golden Globe nominee, and one Golden Globe winner, this cast oozes talent and it will be interesting to see how Clooney brings them together.
The Ides of March has already been screened at the Venice Film Festival and is set for a UK release on 28 October.
Below is the trailer: