I was really inspired by Patti Smith’s review of Mademoiselle (1966), which is basically just an elegy to how fuckable Jeanne Moreau is. The style of it seems appropriate to use to review Drive (2011), which stars Ryan Gosling, so I’m going to try it. Here it goes.
(PS Spoiler alerts abound, so proceed with care.)
Ryan Gosling is really something. He just always looks so cool, even though in Drive he’s supposed to be like this guy who lives in Echo Park and doesn’t have any friends, just drives and chews a toothpick and looks lonely. He’s always wearing aviators and a jacket with a scorpion on the back, I guess because he’s secretly dangerous. I like the way he looks best when the sun is shining on him, and he’s walking across a parking lot, but he also looks really good in darkness, with his fingerless driving gloves, all tense and cool and collected running from the police. His jacket with the scorpion is made of gold cloth, and it gleams under the low light on the streets.
I’ve been into Ryan Gosling ever since he starred in some movie before The Notebook because he’s just really hot, honestly, and also because he’s not a pussy, but you know he’d treat a lady right. Like, he’d fuck you good, and then he’d kiss your forehead, and get you water if you were thirsty. Then he’d come back to bed naked and he’d pull you onto his shoulder, and you’d both fall asleep happy. One time I fucked a guy just because he looked like Ryan Gosling.
At first you think that Ryan Gosling is just a runaway driver for thieves, but then it turns out that he’s not only a stuntman and a racer, he’s actually also a legitimate employee at a garage, where the owner is like his father only he’s not, because he also tries to make money off of him. The owner is a pretty decent guy, but he got involved with some bad mobsters who used to be movie producers in the ’80s or something, which is definitely an insider jab at the movie industry. I think the point is that the movie is supposed to be like an homage to the genre of action movies from the ’80s, but modern because it’s full of the ridiculously excessive violence. It’s also completely fucking beautiful and serene.
The problem with the movie is that the screenplay is not that good and the story editors got lazy when they were tightening it up, so it kind of feels like a parody, and it kind of feels like a music video, and it kind of also feels like a bad rip off noir, and it kind of feels like it should be starring Tom Cruise. When you try to place the category it falls into, your mind becomes a mess. I think I would have enjoyed it best if they had just let the music roll over every scene, and just had no dialogue at all, just Ryan Gosling walking around in aviators in a dirty white t-shirt, driving around in that old reservoir where John Travolta raced in Grease, and lovely ladies just like gazing at him. Occasionally he could say “do you understand me?” but that’s about it. In my opinion, Ryan Gosling and the music are the only truly great things about the entire movie.
Ryan Gosling doesn’t have any ladies at the beginning of the movie because he’s like in love with driving and also might be part machine, but then he meets his next door neighbor Carrie Mulligan, and they practically fall in love at first sight. She sees him and she’s like, hey, my husband’s in jail, even though I don’t look at all like that kind of girl, and you’re pretty hot. He looks at her, and he’s like, I want to kiss your real passionate like, and then take you into your bed and have sweet but satisfying sex. They never do that, but they tell each other they want to a lot with their eyes.
Carrie Mulligan is only ok. She looks like the kind of girl that all the literary guys and poets liked in college, like she was cool but not that intimidating. You wouldn’t be like walking around saying, oh man, that girl, I’d hit it with her every day, but you also probably wouldn’t dismiss her. She’s like a fuckable version of Peter Sarsgaard, although, come to think of it, he’s pretty fuckable as well.
She has this son who is really cute named Benicio who says the darndest things, and Ryan Gosling falls in love with him too because even though he’s a badass, he also is a softie, and you know he’d make a great father.
But then Carrie Mulligan’s husband gets out of jail, and she has a welcome home party for him. That’s one of the best scenes in the movie, because Ryan Gosling’s not invited, so he’s in his stripped bare room, just looking out the window through the blinds at the lights of downtown LA, and in the background, he can hear the really cool music that Carrie is playing at the party. Then he’s sitting at a desk, fixing a car part because he does things like that, and the music swells in his own room, like in his head, so he walks out in the hallway, and there’s Carrie, sitting there with her feet spread out in front of her, looking like she’s about to cry. The music softens, like it’s coming from behind the closed door of the party. She sees Ryan Gosling, and she gives him this look that says “I love you” and he gives it right back to her. Then her husband comes out into the hall, and gives Ryan Gosling the once over, and kind of makes it clear that he should stay away from his lady. But Ryan Gosling just smiles to himself because he knows he has her already.
The husband turns out to be mixed up in some bad shit, but he’s pretty hot as well, like a terrorist or a drug lord or something, all dark and bearded, so you feel kind of sorry for him, and also you understand why Carrie Mulligan, who looks like she should be at Smith College studying art history, not married to a jailbird, would want to marry him. He has to pay these evil gangster guys a lot of money, and in order to do so, he has to rob a pawn shop in the valley. Ryan Gosling decides to help him, because even though he loves Carrie Mulligan and wants to impregnate her and then kiss her belly a lot, he also wants her to be happy, and he doesn’t want her really adorable son to be raised without his father.
This is the part when Christina Hendrick’s comes into the movie, and shit hits the fan. They all go to the pawn shop, and Christina is wearing jeans that maker her ass look weird, but her legs look skinny, and stilettos that seem pretty impractical if you’re going to heist a lot of money. She’s really pretty, and I like that her character in this movie is kind of like the evil one she played in Firefly, who used her considerable charm to like manipulate men and make money off them. I’d want to fuck her more than Carrie Mulligan, I guess, but not that much more, if I were being honest. I’d take Ryan Gosling like every single way, even the dirty ones, before I’d even touch her hand.
The heist does not go well, and Carrie Mulligan’s husband gets killed, and Ryan Gosling gets away in the getaway car, even though he’s being pursued by another car that wants to run him off the road. There’s a chase scene that reminded me of a lot of James Bond movies, and also The Postman Always Rings Twice because it was by the ocean. Christina Hendricks and Ryan Gosling escape because he’s like the best driver in the state of California, and then they go to a motel room together. It turns out that the bag Christina has with her contains $1 million, which is crazy, because they thought they were getting $40,000 at the most. If it were me, I’d have taken the money and run, but Ryan Gosling is a good guy, so he kind of waits around to see what happens next.
This is the part when the movie gets really violent, like Quentin Tarrantino or Coen brothers violent. These two thugs come to the motel room with really strong guns, worse guns than machine guns, and like, without warning, blow off Christina Hendrick’s head. That wasn’t funny, but then Ryan Gosling stabs the one bad guy in the chest with a curtain rod, and shoots the other one with the bad gun he stole, and he just gets blood all over his face. Right after everyone else is dead, there’s a pause where Ryan Gosling kind of stands there just covered in gore, and I swear to God, everyone in the entire theater started laughing off their heads, it was so hilarious.
Anyway, things get bad for Ryan Gosling after that, as you can imagine, and it turns out that he’s kind of like the American Psycho only he only kills bad guys, not ladies he wants to later eat. He goes home to make sure that Carrie Mulligan is ok. Then he drags her into the elevator, and gives her this long, sweet kiss, the kind of thing you dream about getting if you’re a girl, especially from Ryan Gosling. It’s like almost as good as The Notebook, only not as good, because Ryan Gosling was dating Rachel McAdams in real life and they looked great together, and Carrie Mulligan only looks ok and is acting too hard to prove that they have chemistry. Then, right in front of her, after he finishes kissing her tenderly in slow motion, he beats this bad guy in the elevator with them to death by bashing in his head like its a watermelon.
You could tell that Carey Mulligan was like, this guy is clearly a volatile killer without self control, but I’m also in love with him, and his aggression kind of turns her on. If he hadn’t been so tunnel vision intent on killing all of the gangsters who fucked with him, Ryan Gosling would have like grabbed her at that moment, gently laid her on his car and then given it to her lying on the hood.
The rest of the movie is pretty violent, and almost the entire time, the theater was cracking up because it was so ridiculous, until everyone got tired of the brutality. That’s when I started shielding my eyes. At the end, it’s only Ryan Gosling and the guy who killed his boss at the mechanic shop, who was like Ryan Gosling’s father, although I have to admit, he killed him pretty tender by slitting open his wrists and then saying “It’s over, it’s over.” They sit down at a Chinese restaurant to talk, but neither of them knows it’s going to end well, so they go out in the parking lot, and stab each other with knives, and the bad guy, who was also the movie producer, dies right there on the pavement.
Then there’s this shot right in the end, in the fucking sunset, and it’s perfect because Ryan Gosling looks just so fucking golden. It’s a long take on his still face, like 30 seconds, and you’re like, fuck, Ryan Gosling is dead because he’s not moving, but you also know that he might be alive because he has to finally go fuck Carey Mulligan, who is waiting for him. Then suddenly he blinks, and he lifts up his hands, all coated in his thick blood, puts his keys in the ignition, and drives.
The movie ends with him on the road, following the bends in the ribbons on the highway as the incredible music swells up. The person who chose that music should really win an Oscar for it, although it will probably go to some person who wrote a score for a singing donkey. Then the screen goes blank, and the movie ends, and you don’t know what happens, kind of, but you hope for the best.
After I left the theater, I drove home on my bike right through the night, in the black, and right as I’m turning onto my street, I run into this tan convertible that’s flipped over, right in the center of the road. There’s glass everywhere, and half of the canvas top is gone, like it’s been burned off, but there’s no one around but the police who are picking up the wreckage. It was crazy beautiful. I don’t know what happened, but if Ryan Gosling was in that car, and and I had seen him lying there on my street, I would have gone up to him and woken him up Prince Charming style by kissing him straight on the lips.