I saw the movie Drive the other day. Ryan Gosling is on a roll this year. Crazy Stupid Love, Drive, and The Ides of March, all released within a few months, and all worth seeing. He plays three very different characters in each movie, a sexy womanizer, a quiet brute, and a savvy political aid. But the focus here isn’t entirely on Gosling, versatile and fascinating as he is to have succeeded in portraying such diverse personalities – rather the focus is on this movie Drive, and how it progresses from a simple love story into a violent, mafioso mess. [Note: I won’t do spoiler alerts, because I think they’re stupid. If you haven’t seen it and you don’t want it ruined, tough shit.]
It’s a very slow-paced movie. Many of the scenes are silent, or contain only ambient noise, and they tend to last about 10 seconds to a full minute or more longer than most scenes like that in other movies. I noticed at the opening credits that the film was based on a book, and throughout the movie, it made me wonder whether Ryan Gosling’s character had any inner monologues in the book that would have seemed contrite and ridiculous-sounding in a movie. The silences are almost painful, how long they last sometimes.
It reminded me of the MTV Movie Awards, and how they used to give out awards for the longest silences or deep silences or something in a movie. (I think the last time I watched them was about 8 years ago, so I have no idea if this award still exists.) It’s very obvious that Ryan’s character is somewhat of a tortured soul in the movie, so to speak. He does things a certain way, is very careful and particular about the things he does, and never makes a move he hasn’t thought out.
The plot thickens when his neighbor with whom he’s gotten involved, sort of romantically, but more so just neighborly, has her husband return from prison. The husband owes money to some really bad guys, wise guys, no less, Italian though they may not be, and he is forced into doing a robbery. To protect his new friends, and their young son, Gosling agrees to help them pull off the robbery by driving.
The pace quickens only slightly from this point on, and we see Ryan’s character become less and less the nice, quiet guy who does the occasional getaway driver job, and shift more into the quiet guy who will beat you to a pulp if you cross him in just the wrong way.
The violence, absent throughout the entire first half of the film, when it comes in, it comes in hard. Like Quentin Tarantino violent. It actually reminded me of Sin City, which although it appears animated in some places, has no shortage of gore. One thing that really got me was the gunfire, on the rare occasions that they occurred in the film. They were as loud as real gunfire, it seemed, and with no music or other sounds in the movie, the echoed and were made to seem even louder.
Overall, it was a good film. I really didn’t care for the music they did play, and it could have used a little editing for some of those silences, but it kept you guessing, not only at the plotline, but also at Gosling’s character, and what he would do next. He was so quiet, shy, and unassuming the entire movie, and then, all of a sudden, he transforms into a cold-blooded killer. Someone who will not just kill you, but kill you in the most poetically judiciary way. And yet you never move your loyalty from him as the protagonist to anyone else, because the people he kills are worse people than he is. They kill for money rather than for love, which by the time he signs up for the robbery getaway, it’s clear that Gosling’s character is in love with his neighbor and loves her son.
As far as indie movies go, it’s about as stereotypically indie as they get, but Gosling’s character makes the movie interesting and unpredictable, without hardly saying a word.
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