Review: Drive, written by Hossein Amini, James Sallis, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

Refn’s direction and Gosling's performance have lifted this film into a timeless classic of the action genre; 4* out of 5

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Ryan Gosling in 'Drive'
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Alex Radzyner
On 6 October 2011 16:28

A young Hollywood stunt -driver and underpaid car-mechanic moonlights as a getaway driver for robberies. He falls in love with a woman, who is married to a prison-inmate and unwittingly gets on the wrong side of some very nasty people. 

If the plot of this action film does not sound very original, that's because it isn't. But don’t let that put you off.

The story is good enough for a stunning and outstanding action-film, because direction, photography and music combine to create a truly beautiful, tense atmosphere that makes the experience of watching Drive memorable.

The deliberate pacing of the camera shots during action sequences and car-chases and the perspective chosen in each shot are masterful. And to put the icing on this cake, there is an extraordinary performance by Ryan Gosling.

He plays his character with an understated determination and a propensity to explode into brutal and relentless but very focused violence. Gosling in his racing-driver's jacket has the charisma and the makings of a James Dean for the 21st century, hopefully with a long and productive career ahead of him. He also seems to have a knack for appearing in high quality films such as one of the best films of 2010, Blue Valentine. 

The Danish Director Nicolas Winding Refn, who spent his childhood in New York introduces an unflinching Scandinavian look at social realities and the violent world of organised crime which is reinforced by slowing down the action and taking unusual perspectives. A tense car chase is made even tenser by slow and stationary elements forming part of it. For this film Winding Refn deservedly won the Best Director Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. 

In fact, Refn’s direction and Gosling's performance have lifted this film into a timeless classic of the action genre.

Alex Radzyner writes the London Theater Goer blog.

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