I am certain that the only thing I didn’t like about this movie was its silly pink font. Maybe it was used ironically, I don’t know. But it displeased me.
The rest of this movie, however, more than makes up for the failing textual aesthetics. Holy hell, Ryan Gosling kind of kicks ass! I’m not as enamored with him as most other women and men are, everywhere, in the entire world, but I do think he’s a decent, understated actor. And Drive plays into that mystery, allowing him to actually be the crazy guy we all sort of thought he might be underneath the scowl and doe eyes.
I wonder what it’s like for an actor to play a character without a name; here, Gosling was simply The Driver. I think ordinarily, a no name character isn’t a good sign, but in this case I imagine it allowed him to have a bit more free reign than usual. Most of his emotions were kept thoroughly in check, manifested only once he got behind the wheel. Even when he started to crack, showing signs of affection for Irene (Carey Mulligan), he barely let down his guard to show that he cared about her and her kid. Most of the time, he sat in stoic silence, waiting for his next legal or illegal job.
Which is why the gory, quasi-Tarantino climax(es) of the film are so satisfying. The blood comes unexpectedly, tragically, and quickly, but the payoff is perfect. All the characters we’ve briefly come to like over the course of an hour or so, wind up getting their heads or other body parts blown off in some grisly fashion. Let’s start with Christina Hendricks, whom none of us have really seen not looking great; in this movie, she doesn’t look smashing. She’s Blanche, essentially a runner in a heist, and unfortunately she gets caught in the crossfire. It’s brutal. And then there’s Bryan Cranston, playing a limpy man called Shannon who somehow, miraculously, believes in the Driver’s abilities even though I’m sure they’ve never had an extensive conversation. His luck runs out. So does Albert Brooks’ and Ron Perlman’s, as Bernie and Nino, mobster mensches. It’s really bizarre to see such awful things happen to actors you love, but Drive profits from the disorienting visuals. Just go with it.
And the music! It’s brilliant, understated. It really downplays all the excitement, too, so you’re left bewildered and slightly disbelieving of what’s happening on screen. I’m not confident in my ability to recount the plot of Drive, but I know that I want to watch it again to make sure it all really happened.