by Tony Medley
Run time 110
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.
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
This is a
wonderfully made movie, but be prepared for the eye-averting violence
that permeates the film.