Looking back at the past year of movies, there have been a lot where I wouldn’t have minded at all if the film was cut short at about 60 minutes or so. Some I just wanted to end. Yes, a few kept me interested, but I think this is the first one that had me wishing for an extension; and yet, it ended where it should have, and was better for it.
I haven’t seen the Pusher trilogy, but I have seen Bronson, and that was enough to raise my interest in this Nicolas Winding Refn (such a sweet name) movie, never mind all of the praise it’s been getting, including Best Director at Cannes. I just checked and I have not in fact seen any Ryan Gosling movies, which explains why I didn’t really get all the hype on that end. His performance here hasn’t really made me a huge fan but I’d be okay with trying out some more.
So the movie is about this guy who drives cars. He’s a stunt driver, a mechanic, and a getaway driver for criminals. He does all this without saying much, and almost always remains entirely calm. A little bit of romantic involvement with Carey Mulligan brings him into a dangerous situation, and we begin to find out that his past might not be all roses, surprise surprise.
The cool thing with that bit about the past is that we’re not given any actual information about it. All we learn is that this guy is capable of some pretty intense actions (he’s also very good at staring contests and not saying anything when asked questions). We never even learn his name, he’s just the Driver. Pretty awesome. We’re also treated to a ton of breathing space between the action sequences. The contrast this brings to said scenes is just fantastic, although even without the space they’d still be shocking. All of this is done with beautiful shots and an occasional backdrop of 80s-ish nostalgic synth music (strangely not cringe-inducing in this context).
The film also features some great Ron Perlman and Bryan Cranston performances. It’s nice to see Cranston as someone other than Walter White. Perlman of course elevates everything he touches, and he does a fine job as usual. I said before that Gosling’s part wasn’t that impressive, but it’s definitely very good considering how few lines he actually has. Most of the performance is body language.
So it’s a super great movie. Go check it out.