Holland 7, Theatre #7, 4:50pm
In the last week I began to hear some buzz about this film -- especially Albert Brooks playing A Very Bad Man. So we decided a late afternoon matinee might be fun.
It's no surprise to know that this film is another long line of heist-gone-wrong stories, much like To Live and Die in L.A.. It is also pretty ultraviolent. The driver, who is actually never named, lives a very odd life, all part-time gigs. Hollywood stunt driver. Mechanic. Driver. Racer. He also spends a lot of time tinkering with his car.
Things really start to unravel when he befriends the single mom down the hall -- turns out her husband is being released from prison. Our driver likes the girl and is good with the kid. But you know from the start that this can't have a happy ending, but we're not sure how. Is he ex-gang? Ex-military? What's the significance of his jacket?
I kept on noting the emotionless expression of Ryan Gosling, especially when he's working. However there's a scene towards the end which is truly expressionless -- and it creepily suggests the uncanny valley that is often talked about with animation and robots. He also exudes a great confidence and sense of purpose as he moves. We later find he's capable of action when needed, so you never know what's going to happen next.
The heavies are all brutal guys. Albert Brooks and the always awesome Ron Perlman lead the way.
The driving is excellent, but in a more realistic way than in the usual shoot-em-ups, making it even more nerve wracking. It was amusing in the credits to note how many drivers they had. Also one Hollywood stunt drive shot, shown pulled back so you can actually see the stunt -- a nice bit of inside baseball given the story.
We're really glad to have seen this. It's tight and well-filmed, but it's not a "fun" movie. Indeed, it makes most of your cops and robbers escapades look weak and anemic and Hollywood. It also makes a life of crime pretty unappetizing. (grin)