I had high hopes for Ryan Gosling's performance on the basis of a possible (yet not forthcoming) Oscar nod and it did not disappoint. The powerfully understated performance as the loner who finds happiness with the family next door is fantastically delivered. A man who seems to consider the necessity of each and every word he speaks, the scenes where Gosling and Carey Mulligans relationship develops through the briefest of exchanges and longest of stares are particularly mesmerising with director Nicholas Refn stretching the scenes of the silence to the absolute limit before with the viewer feeling awkward. Refn manages illustrate the intimacy between the characters without the need for a lazy gratuitous sex scene, a scene which would have been considered mandatory in other films.
The driver (Gosling) begins to come out of his shell as the film progresses and initially hints at his violent capabilities when provoked by a former criminal associate with a loud mouth. This character becomes more prevalent as he strives to protect Irene from danger brought on through his own actions of goodwill.
The film is stylish and has a retro feel to it, assisted by the excellent soundtrack of synth-heavy electro-pop.
Yes, the actual car action pieces are few and far between, but in the end the driving only serves as the backdrop to the central story of the film. The film is builds up suspense in places, and maintains this through the finals scenes to the ending. Excellent.