“My partner is a belligerent asshole with his back up against a wall, and now, so am I.”
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman
Writing: Hossein Amini
Diving head first into the world I learnt many interesting things. Albert Brooks can play a great villain, Bryan Cranston is appearing in every movie now a days, and I’m now a fan of Nicolas Winding Refn. I think it’s obvious where this review is headed, but let me explain why this movie would be a contender for my favourite movie of 2011.
First off the acting on all fronts is brilliant and truly elevates this story. Ryan Gosling as the character simply known as Driver is perfect. His performance is minimalist and yet he can express his character in a glance or a smile. I was drawn into the character and was fascinated by his quiet moments; there is so much to like in the performance. Carey Mulligan also downplays it, and is pitch perfect as Irene. She carries this sadness with her, which says a lot about her past, but you can see the genuine kind person she is with her actions. Bryan Cranston is great as Driver’s friend and boss Shannon. Unlike the Mulligan and Gosling he plays his character a lot more livelier and stands out because of it, yet he doesn’t go so far has to wander into ham acting territory. Finally I would like to mention Albert Brooks, a man who I will always remember as the voice of Hank Scorpio from The Simpsons. Well I would until his turn as Bernie Rose, a villain who does send a shiver down my spine. Bernie isn’t a psychopath, isn’t over the top, isn’t remorseful, but one of those rare villains who just is. It’s hard to really explain, but needless to say yet again another wonderful performance in a movie exploding with talent.
Visually the movie is stunning with Nicolas Winding Refn giving us these beautiful driving scenes that show us why Driver is in love with driving. We aren’t talking Fast and the Furious speeding down street, more just driving around the city at night. There is something beautiful about it captured on screen. However when the action does ramp up we get some well shot chase and getaway scenes that definitely feel tense. It was also a pleasant surprise to see a getaway from a robbery involve using one’s head, rather than putting pedal to the metal. In Refn we have a director with an assured eye for this film, able to blend action and drama seamlessly together. It was such a pleasure just to watch this film I really want to go back as soon as possible to see it again.
Story wise we have a very basic premise, but action is not really the aim of this movie. Instead we have a drama and character study that has moments of action and violence. At its core it’s a look into the character of Driver and how he struggles with a growing attraction to Irene and his past and job seeping through into his life. Driver is also somewhat of an enigma, a lot is implied rather than out right said, and that’s refreshing as while his past is important, it allows for Gosling to be able to show rather than tell. There were moments in this movie that reminded me of Heat, in that while there was a crime story taking place, the movie really tries to get into the heads of the characters.
Not sure how passionately I can say this, but whatever you do you need to go see this movie. Sure I can see people not gelling with it, as minimal dialogue and lack of action might turn people off. But this is what cinema is all about, movies that are able to get the audience thinking as well as be entertaining. Gosling is phenomenal, the movie is beautiful and obviously the more people who go see movies like this, will help in getting more movies like this made. GO SEE THIS MOVIE NOW.