By Eleanor Ringel Cater
“Drive” made me car sick.
The sort of super-sleek cheese that Michael Mann used to do in his sleep, it profits — immensely — from Ryan Gosling’s iconic rendering of an iconic role: the strong, silent loner who just happens to be better than anyone else in the entire world at one thing.
Gosling can drive.
A movie stuntman who moonlights as as a getaway-driver-for-hire, he’s a stone-cold hero for a stone-dead post-9/11 world.
Though, truth be told, this is actually the sort of thing that flooded theatres in the early ‘70s. Recessive, monosyllabic heroes who, nonetheless, were bursting with reserves of pent-up sensitivity.
All they needed was a girl who could….well, shut up, give ‘em some sex appeal and not take up too much screen time or emotion. Here, ‘The Girl’ is played by Carey Mulligan (“An Education”), an excellent actress doing her damned-est to fill out an empty role.
Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman make welcome extended cameo appearances as various thugs. Especially Brooks who uses his typically comic geekiness to create a gangster who turns deadly when you least expect it.
But the burden of the picture falls on Gosling who continues to take on a wide array of roles. In many ways, he harkens back to the heyday of Robert De Niro or even Dustin Hoffman, when the sheer pleasure of watching them work transcended whatever they were working in.
Gosling’s commitment is total; his talent unplumbed. Edward Norton may want to watch his back.