Best Director Winner: Nicolas Winding Refn
A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
One thing that is for sure from my perspective and pretty much every other movie goers that I know of, is that this movie is completely different than what one expects having only seen the trailer. That may sound like a turn-off for some, but let me tell you, I welcomed and loved this unexpected movie. It’s not just a movie with fast cars and stunts and get-away chase scenes. It really is so much more.
We are introduced right away to the driver [Ryan Gosling]. We don’t know his name, we don’t know his story, we just know that he does one thing very well: drive. He part times at a garage, and is preparing to start driving in stock car races. He comes across a mother [Carey Mulligan] and her young child, neighbors of his, and becomes close with her. When her husband returns from jail a week later, he tells the driver that he needs his help getting out of some trouble. The heist, however, goes terribly wrong, and the movie takes a huge turn the rest of the way.
Despite our knowing nothing of this hero of ours, Gosling is able to draw our sympathies and our caring for his character and his situation. He gives a powerful performance and has really convinced me of his talent, something I wasn’t sure of in the past. I was under the impression that he was just a face in Hollywood, something we see a lot of. This is not case, and this movie is the only proof I need. The rest of the cast is a pitch perfect job of casting, especially with the vulnerable woman Gosling falls for, which Mulligan can do in her sleep. Other noteable names that show up are Bryan Cranston as the drivers mechanic, Albert Brooks as the sort of kingpin that gets the driver involved in this heist, and Ron Pearlman, the partner of Brooks’ character.
There is a very unique feel to this movie, accomplished by the direction, the writing, and the soundtrack, all of which I absolutely loved. Many people have told me of the fine work that director Nicolas Winding Refn does, but this is the first movie of his that I’ve seen, and man, what a first impression. Although it’s not my area of expertise, everyone else will note the film-noir style of the film, which with my little knowledge of, I’d have to agree. Even the font used in the opening credits backs up the personality of this film. The whole thing just feels real. I don’t even know if there was a single clip of computer generated images, something you likely never see in this age of films. The action is genuine, and sometimes even graphic, and we feel connected to the people and the reasons that they are in this action. It really is an incredible feeling. There’s really nothing bad I can say about the entire movie, like, at all, anywhere. And having said that, there’s really only one rating I can give it, right?
4.0/4.0 – Cannes ‘Best Director’ winner Nicolas Winding Refn gives us a story reminiscent of the film-noir style of the past, a film with a story, characters, drama, and action that we can really feel.