Ryan Gosling is a big talent.  A really big talent.

I haven’t seen The Ides of March yet (probably tomorrow), but Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, and Drive are enough for me to make the case for Gosling.

Drive relies on a cast of strong actors – including Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, and Christina Hendricks – because the script is spare.

With the absence of character backstory, strong performances are necessary to engage viewers and propel what is essentially a lean storyline:  there’s not a lot of dialogue, and the plot is a bit elliptical at times, too.

But, these are not bad things in Drive.  The story involves a mechanic (Gosling) who works as a stunt driver when movie jobs roll around and drives getaway cars for criminals when it suits him.  His character isn’t even given a name.

Think that’s complicated?  Just wait.  It’s only when he falls for a single mom (Mulligan) in the apartment down the hall that what should signal a certain type of complication in more conventional films quickly becomes another (which I won’t spoil by revealing here).

The poignancy of the scenes between Gosling and Mulligan is nearly palpable, and it comes more from a bigger, unspecified longing than just garden variety lust. I love the tension and the surprising tenderness between the driver and the mom down the hall.

And, that’s not all.  The pacing works for me, too.  It’s all hurry up and wait, just like making a real movie, or driving a getaway car, or trying to suss out the prospect of a new relationship.

I also like the use of color in surprising ways that seems to echo the contrasting emotional tones in the film, which is really just another type of hurry up and wait, isn’t it?  I like the visual style, and the narrative surprises, and how I simply didn’t know what to expect from moment-to-moment when watching.

That can be refreshing, you know?  Drive works for me.


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