driveA Hollywood stunt man (Ryan Gosling) drives getaway cars at robberies by night; his involvement with an attractive neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and a mobster (Albert Brooks) complicates his life. Pusher director Nicolas Winding Refn’s first American film is an exercise in style, featuring slickly staged ultra-violence set to an irresistible electro-pop soundtrack. There really is no substance beyond that, which remains a problem. But it’s also hard to complain when a genre piece looks this good and offers thrills throughout. The dynamite opening introduces a new “Man With No Name”; Gosling is a worthy successor to Clint Eastwood, aided by a topnotch supporting cast.

2011-U.S. 100 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Michael Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker, Adam Siegel. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Screenplay: Hossein Amini. Novel: James Sallis. Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel. Music: Cliff Martinez. Cast: Ryan Gosling (Driver), Carey Mulligan (Irene), Bryan Cranston (Shannon), Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac, Ron Perlman… Christina Hendricks, Russ Tamblyn.

Trivia: Hugh Jackman was allegedly considered for the role of the Driver.

Cannes: Best Director.

Last word: “I really liked Hoss Amini, who been working on [the script] for so many years, poor guy. Drafts among drafts among… he was like at the edge of his rope, basically. So I met with him and we did a lot of restructuring, in England, where he lives. And that was easy for me, ’cause I live in Denmark. And then we moved to Los Angeles, and he would fly out and live with me in L.A., and we would continue dissecting it. Ryan would then be part of that as well, which was great, because Ryan and I had a very telekinetic relationship. Then the other actors I had along the way would come in and be very much part of the script’s evolution. And then we went off and did the movie. I shoot my films in chronological order, so again, it was a constant evolution of the story and the script.” (Winding Refn, A.V. Club)

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