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Monday, May 27, 2013

Ryan Gosling in "Drive" 2011: Anonymous, Nihilistic, Sadism

I was watching the beginning of "Drive" on DVD and I was bored. "Drive" is very slow moving. I wondered what I was missing; the film had gotten rave reviews. I paused the DVD and read a few internet comments. One reviewer wrote, "Skip the first fifty minutes. It's boring. Fast forward to the end with all the interesting killings."

"Drive" is a nihilistic, sadistic, nasty little film. There are graphic scenes of one man stomping another man to death. The victim's skull is depicted as having the fragility of an eggshell; his brains have the squishy consistency of chocolate pudding. A man places a nail into the forehead of an intended victim and threatens to hammer the nail. A man makes to shake another man's hand and pulls the man forward and slashes his arm open. There are also more conventional stabbings and shootings. I'm used to images of gore; my facebook friends tend to post the latest stoning, decapitation, or bombing videos. What sickened me about "Drive" was realizing that Hollywood executives cooked up all this nihilistic sadism as a moneymaking form of entertainment.

Ryan Gosling plays The Man with No Name. He drives getaway cars for violent criminals. He develops a crush on Irene (Carey Mulligan) his neighbor. Her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) has just gotten out of prison. Gosling offers to drive Standard in a heist. There are some Jewish gangsters, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks.

None of this is particularly believable or involving. I never forgot that most characters are actors. Oh, there's Albert Brooks, who usually plays a narcissistic whiner, who is now playing an atypical bad guy role. Oh, there's Ron Perlman, who was in Beauty and the Beast. Oh, there's Carey Mulligan, who just played Daisy in "The Great Gatsby." Oh, there's Bryan Cranston, from "Breaking Bad."

It's impossible to believe that Mulligan and Isaac are married, or that Mulligan belongs in this movie at all. She looks like a dewy buttercup; Isaac looks like he could play Satan with no makeup. Mulligan totally lacks that Gloria Grahame feel of a true film noir heroine – beautiful, shopworn, tragic.

The film moves very slowly. There is virtually no dialogue between Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The viewer has no idea why this woman breaks into Gosling's heart. You have no idea who Gosling is. He comes across as being too stupid or too smart; too amoral or too ethical; he's just not believable. None of the characters are likeable. This film could have had any number of endings, with everybody dead or everybody alive or the lovers united or the lovers apart, the money in the bank or the money in the backseat of the car. I just did not care. The film seems to exist only to satisfy that sad, creepy demographic of fans who pay to see "interesting killings."

"Drive" gets more than one star for Gosling's performance. He is a brilliant actor who can do anything. I just wish he would not waste his gifts on drek like this.

1 comment:

  1. I love this movie as it is basically the movie of hotline Miami and trust me, i'm pretty crazy on hotline Miami

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