I’m not sure if this film is a dress rehearsal before George takes up the big job as president, but he does makes a damn fine job of it. He could be a 21st century Bill Clinton, with good looks, and without the sex scandals, presumably. Now while George is prepping himself to become leader of the free world he’s also made a very compelling film; it’s dark and treacherous like all good political movies should be. If you know anything about the title – a reference to Julius Caesar – you can gather what to expect here. Again Ryan Gosling puts in another fine performance, -read my Drive review for more- he actually reminds me of a young Clooney rather a lot, which is certainly no bad thing. The supporting cast is terrific, it’s as good as anything put together by the master of the ensemble movie Robert Altman. Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Evan Rachel Wood and Mirasa Tomei are all equally as important to the success of this film as the two star names are. The only serious issue I have with the movie is that it can be difficult to follow at times, especially for a foreigner like myself not brought up on American politics. There’s a deluge of names, numbers and places and it’s not always easy to keep track of who’s doing what. A simple understanding of American primaries and so on certainly helps. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy the movie if you don’t, as it is very good and it sits as a nicely as a companion piece to Clooney’s Good Night & Good Luck. It impressed me a lot more than The Descendants, which is getting all the Oscar buzz.
Marks out of ten – Eight
I knew almost nothing about this film before viewing it, and perhaps it was helped by the lack of expectations, but this really captivated me from the opening seconds. No doubt this was helped by the stunning editing of Ryan Gosling’s Driver passing through LA, at night, cut to Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx. It’s a great way to start a movie (I never thought I’d get to namecheck some CSS with this film either!) Drive draws heavily from the film noir genre – little dialogue, a femme fatale-ish character, a mysterious protagonist, and all kinds of trouble going down – but it also has it’s own modern style. I suppose you could compare it to Rian Johnson’s Brick with it’s composition of the contemporary and the old noir. I’m also really starting to be impressed with Gosling’s collection of work, I know he has done some mainstream stuff to pay the bills, but Lars and the Real Girl, Half Nelson, and the brilliant Blue Valentine are a fine trilogy (I’m looking forward to seeing The Ides of March at some point too.) The film never lags or feels bloated, despite the drawn out nature of some of the scenes, and it’s definitely one of the best contemporary movies I’ve seen in quite some time. The only downside to the movie is the relatively minor role Carey Mulligan has, she never gets much to say or do, and a little more interaction with Gosling would have been fun to see. Perhaps I was just hoping he could rekindle some of the electric chemistry he had with Michelle Williams, from Blue Valentine, back here with Mulligan. Nevertheless it’s a movie that cannot fail to impress.
Marks out of ten – Nine
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