Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Driven Crazy In My Seat

Oh, I wanted to like this movie.  Ryan Gosling ("Blue Valentine" "The Believer" "Lars and The Real Girl") is a fine young actor who has great screen presence.  I feel he will mature into one of the greats but not if he chooses films like this.  "Drive," directed by Nicholas Winding Refn ("Valhalla Rising" and other 'B' type films) and also starring Carey Mulligan ("An Education" "Never Let Me Go") and Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") is an action film with very little action.  It is based on the book of the same name penned by James Sallis, who co-wrote the screenplay with Hossein Amini.  This film takes itself very seriously and takes a very long time with every shot of each character's face.  There is a tremendous amount of starring and gazing and grinning.  Ryan Gosling is a man who makes his living stunt driving, working on cars and being the getaway driver for criminals.  We are never told why he does what he does and therefore there is very little connection with his character.  He falls for his neighbor (a too cute and perky Carey Mulligan) who's husband is in jail.  Things, of course, go terribly wrong when he is released.  The ensuing drive sequences are terrific but they left me flat.  There was no depth to the story other than the long gazes and smiles between Ryan and Carey, which had me squirming in my seat.  Bryan Cranston had the most to say and brought some much needed life to the film but overall the script just did not give enough.  Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, two of our finest young actors, deserve much more to work with than this film could give.

Here are some much better films that I highly recommend:

"Crazy Stupid Love" - also starring Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Julianne Moore and a very funny Emma Stone.  This film is clever, engaging, surprising, touching and truly funny.

"Contagion" - starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and many other stars. It is a well-written and very well-presented thriller with undertones of being a story told in real time.  It is almost too real at times and you will jump the first time you hear someone cough after it is over but it is a smart film that entertains and informs.

"The Debt" - starring Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ciaran Hinds, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and a wonderful Marton Csokas who stole every scene he was in.  This film has depth, an intricate script and excellent acting.  This is one of the best films of the year so far.