re: “thoughts on DRIVE”

it’s full of geometry and darkness and light, perfect neon artificiality that bends and bounces off of the cold city surfaces of a lovingly photographed los angeles, often shot from the inside of the cab of our titular driver, suggesting a sort of insulated perspectivism. the los angeles we see is the same los angeles ryan gosling sees and it’s a city that peers back into gosling and, as an effect, back into the audience.

for me, that scene where gosling brings mulligan and her character’s son to that wild growth and river at the edge of the cement canal is emblematic of the entire feature and specifically gosling’s character/performance. the driver is a cold, detached child of the city. he is a stunt man, as is constantly reminded: “he works for the movies.” so, there is a sense of artificiality to gosling, a sense of sociopathy. immediately coming out of the picture, i compared him to de niro in TAXI DRIVER. but, there is a significant difference. and that’s that, unlike de niro’s character, the driver has something genuine and wild and beautiful somewhere inside of him, however engulfed and hidden by his misanthropy or his coldness. somewhere inside of him, just as this unexpected natural stream seems to flow out of the man-made, concrete waterway, is something almost pure, a “real human being.” to me, the driver as a mysterious figure, ambiguously sociopathic yet shyly striving for a humanity in a situation of ultra-violence and danger, is perhaps the most startling aspect of the film.”