By Joshua Madden
One of my friends joked once that — and I’m paraphrasing here because of his language — that Ryan Gosling only makes terrible films or excellent films.
“Drive” certainly didn’t disprove that theory, but luckily that’s because “Drive” is one of the excellent films.
In Thursday’s issue of the Lariat, we reviewed the book that “Drive” is based off of and I’m happy to report that the film lived up to my expectations.
Much like the book, the film follows a protagonist (in the book he’s named Driver, but in the film he’s not named at all) who works as a Hollywood stunt driver as well as a criminal getaway driver.
The film opens up with one of the most intense heist scenes in recent cinematic history and, in many ways it rivals the quality of the bank robbery in “The Dark Knight,” which is undoubtedly the new standard in terms of heist openers for films.
It won’t take you long watching “Drive” to realize that Ryan Gosling doesn’t have a lot of lines in the film, but that doesn’t mean he’s not required to act.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Gosling had better get some kind of nomination for his performance here. He somehow comes across as likable without ever saying much of anything.
Gosling creates a character without ever outright stating that character’s feelings. It is a true achievement in terms of his acting ability that he is able to say everything his character needs to say while staying silent.
Gosling, however, is always a terrific actor, even in movies that sometimes don’t meet up to the quality of his performance — like the disconnect between his Academy Award-nominated performance and the actual film in the case of “Half-Nelson.”
Because it is essentially assumed that Gosling will deliver a quality performance, the real surprise treat of the film might be the performance from Albert Brooks, who is already receiving some buzz as a possible supporting actor nominee at this year’s Academy Awards.
Brooks plays the mysterious Bernie Rose, a gangster with motivations that are always hidden, which makes him an incredibly fascinating character to watch on screen. You never know exactly what Rose is going to do and somehow Brooks brings that sense of mystery to life.
While I loved the film primarily because of the power of the acting, make sure you don’t go see “Drive” unless you’re willing to put up with some graphic violence. Director Nicolas Winding Refn makes no effort to soften the violence of the film and while I felt that this gave the film emotional heft, others might struggle with it.
I would recommend “Drive,” but only if you’re sure you’re ready for it.
Reviews in the Lariat represent only the viewpoint of the reviewer and not necessarily the rest of the staff. Please send comments to email@example.com.