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Drive (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 110 Minutes.

Not for children.

Brilliantly directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (from a script by Hossein Amini and a book by James Sallis), this is a film that grabs and holds you despite deplorable graphic violence. No movie needs scenes of knives going into people's throats and blood gushing all over everything. As a result, this good film sometimes resembles a gothic horror film. There's too much talent here, and too good a story, to demean it with such reprehensible graphic brutality.

Ryan Gosling is an unnamed stunt man who doubles as a driver for robbers. He lives down the hall from Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband is just getting released from jail. Mystifying to me is that Gosling's apartment is numbered 405 and Irene's is 408, even though they are separated by only one other apartment and are on the same side of the hall. Odd, but it had nothing to do with the story (or anything else that I could determine). When Irene's husband is beaten up by two thugs, Gosling offers to help and things get very involved and violent.

The fine performances by Gosling and Mulligan as the married lady in whom he is interested are buttressed by appearances by a couple of old time favorites, Albert Brooks and Russ Tamblyn. Brook eschews his former comedic roles to appear as a mob boss, and he gives a believable performance, even though he has gained Marlon Brando-type weight. Tamblyn, who was a singing-dancing star in films like West Side Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, makes a very short appearance as a doctor. Also contributing a good performance is Ron Perlman as Brooks subordinate in the mob.

In addition to Refn's expert directing and Gosling's low key acting, what really makes this movie tense is the award-quality music (Cliff Martinez). While it's muted and in the background, it is always there, keeping the tension constantly mounting.

This is a wonderfully made movie, but be prepared for the eye-averting violence that permeates the film.