It’s really been a great year for Ryan Gosling, with a variety of different films this year including Crazy, Stupid Love and The Ides of March, he is also the star of Drive, the film many critics are rightly calling the coolest film of the year.

In a role with very limited dialogue, Gosling is intense and threatening and in certain scenes you can visibly see his rage bubbling beneath the surface. His nameless- toothpick-chewing  protagonists, a clear homage to Clint Eastwood,  is a wizard behind the wheel.

Known only as ‘The Driver’, He is mechanic and Hollywood stunt-car driver by day but getaway car driver by night. Living a lonely existence he forms a tentative relationship with his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), a single mum whose husband is in jail. Just as the two begin to get closer her husband is released from prison but his troubles are far from over. With the mob demanding he do one last job, Driver steps in to help ensure the safety of Irene and her son though things prove much more complicated than expected.

The scenes between Gosling and Mulligan are tender and incredibly restrained, as thought their innocent romance rises above the corruption greed and violence permeating the rest of the film. It draws the audience in and one memorable scene when he drives her home is uplifting, calm and sharply contrasted to the high-octane car chases and ultra-violence of the ‘on the job’ scenes, the thumping techno soundtrack, seamlessly interwoven within the scenes is fantastic and undoubtedly one of the most memorable soundtracks of the year.

The cinematography is impressive and the neon-flecked skyline of L.A is sleek and moody. Danish director Nicholas Winding-Refn’s stylised tone is fresh and exciting and reminiscent of the action movies of the 80’s. Indeed the hot pink font used in the opening credits and Gosling’s padded scorpion jacket (which is bound to become a coveted fashion item) help with the retro feel and also prove that Gosling really can pull off any look you throw at him.

Highly stylised and more violent than expected there are also tender moments of quiet to balance it out and Gosling, the often underrated indie king of Hollywood really shines in such a restrained role. If you only see one Gosling film all year, make it this one.

Verdict: *****


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