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For most part of Drive,Gosling’s unnamed protagonist glides along in his car in silence,observing,waiting,watching.

Written by Shalini Langer |
October 1, 2011 11:34:22 pm

Drive

DIRECTOR: Nicolas Winding Refn

CAST: Ryan Gosling,Carey Mulligan,Bryan Cranston,Albert Brooks,Oscar Isaac,Christina Hendricks

Rating: ****

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For most part of Drive,Gosling’s unnamed protagonist glides along in his car in silence,observing,waiting,watching. Then,suddenly,without a notice,he shifts gears. The guy who exchanges shy smiles with his pretty neighbour,without opening up further,snarls local hoodies into silence with a short snap. The guy,who spends most of his day under the car’s hood at a garage,runs those automobiles fast and furious most nights. And the guy who gently carries his neighbour’s sleeping child to bed late evenings shrugs off bullet hits on his arms other nights.

Refn,who won Best Director at Cannes 2011 for Drive (the film was also nominated for Palme d’Or),manages these shifts in gears with aplomb. Drive moves as lovingly over Gosling’s hands on the steering wheel and the light playing across his face as it lingers on the extreme,brutal and sudden bursts of violence he is revealed to be capable of. Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel captures a warm day and quiet nights between Gosling and Irene (Mulligan) and her son as beautifully as the slow build-up to a shootout,marked by just a masked man peering through the door of a crowded pizzeria.

This is Los Angeles in a new light,love as a new like,and violence as an old savage.

Above all,Refn and screenwriter Hossein Amini (adapting a book by James Sallis) know the value of silence. It takes two scenes to sketch Irene’s life — one where she is sharing a quiet laugh with her son in a supermarket aisle,and second when her troubled husband (Isaac) is recounting their first meeting at the lunch table,with Gosling listening in. On the other hand,Gosling remains unsketched — a work in progress,just like a race car he is helping build. A story without a beginning and,we increasingly realise,without an end.

By days,he is a garage mechanic,as part-time,he does movie car stunts,and by nights,he is the guy behind the wheel of the getaway car during heists. He has a five-minute window,he tells those who hire him for heists. For those five minutes,he is as involved in the job as the rest. Before and after that,his time is his alone. Why he does it? We don’t know. Does he like doing it? We don’t think so. Does he need the money? No,as far as we can tell. Would he give it all up willingly? It sure seems so. Do we care? Oh,yes.

In a film that belongs to Gosling alone,despite the very excellent Mulligan and Brooks,the rest of a strong support cast and some great music,we can’t look away from even the scorpion at the back of his grimy jacket.

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

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