What happens when you take a popular Hollywood actor, place him in what on paper looks like a typical Hollywood action movie but then have it made in an almost art house style. What you get is a movie which divides audiences, disappoints those who watched because they expect Hollywood action from a Hollywood star but enthralled those who are tired of the same old stuff and yearned for some thing which bucks the trend. I admit it has left me torn because on one hand "Drive" is fascinating, the slow almost meandering storyline piqued my curiosity as I wanted to know what was going on yet at the same time I found it laborious, stylish but also forced styling which left me frustrated yet also captivated.
In "Drive" Ryan Gosling stars as a man with no name, we only know him as a Driver and we watch as we see he is an expert get away driver for hire who is unbelievably cool under pressure, he is also a stunt driver, a mechanic and thanks to his boss at the garage is entering the world of stock car driving. He is a man of few words but his cool exterior is broken when he gets close to his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son despite her boyfriend being in prison. But when her boyfriend is released he finds himself drawn into a situation which connects various aspects of his life especially as he cares for Irene and her son.
So as I said at the start "Drive" is a movie with a Hollywood storyline but done in an almost art house style and it makes it hard work. I say that because it is incredibly slow going with the story coming together bit by bit rather than being served up on a plate which would have been the normal thing. But at the same time it is fascinating because you want to know what is going to happen and more importantly what is going to happen between Driver and Irene because the only time his cool exterior breaks is when he is with Irene and he starts to smile.
That brings me to the acting of Ryan Gosling who as Driver is the epitome of 60s style cool, although the movie is not set then, he dresses and acts like one of those mean and moody rebels from the era who has a tooth pick in his mouth and only speaks when he has something to say. And Gosling pulls it off but the over long silences before he opens his mouth to speak is so forced it is uncomfortable, a second less and maybe it would have been right but as it is it is too long. But as I said Gosling is good and you can believe there is a fondness between him and Irene played by Carrey Mulligan who is irresistibly sweet. And to be honest the acting through out it good with the supporting cast which includes Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks all delivering slightly quirky but not over the top performances.
Now the other thing I mentioned is that "Drive" is stylish and director Nicolas Winding Refn has created one beautiful looking movie with an eye for a stunning shot be it during action or using sunlight. He also does an equally good job of making the action brutal, really brutal which adds to the mystery surrounding who the Driver is. But at times it is too much, not so much experimental but a style overload which adds to the lumbering flow of the movie.
What this all boils down to is that "Drive" is a fascinating movie; stylish, interesting and entertaining but at the same time it is hard work due to the overload of style and forced styling which slows it down.