Ryan Gosling in 'Drive': What the Critics are Saying

3:07 PM PST 09/14/2011 by Sophie Schillaci
FilmDistrict

The actor portrays a nameless stunt driver, opposite Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston in the Nicolas Winding Refn directed film.

Always the buzzworthy actor, Ryan Gosling is garnering plenty of attention for his latest role as the nameless Driver in FilmDistrict’s Cannes pickup.

The film has received generally favorable reviews, earing a 95% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Co-starring Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston, Drive opens nationwide on Friday, Sept. 16.

CANNES REVIEW: Drive

How does Gosling’s performance stack up? Read what a few of the top critics had to say.

“It’s a fun, if not exhilarating, ride, one sped along with the help of a wonderfully assembled cast,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter film critic, Todd McCarthy. “Gosling here makes a bid to enter the iconic ranks of tough, self-possessed American screen actors -- Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin -- who express themselves through actions rather than words.”

STORY: Cannes 2011 Q&A: 'Drive' Director Nicolas Winding Refn

J. Hoberman of Village Voice echoed, “Gosling is an understated hero in the Eastwood-McQueen tradition—almost ridiculously so: His trademark toothpick is a diminished equivalent of the raunchy cheroot Eastwood gnaws in his spaghetti westerns. Gosling's is a totally reactive performance: Whatever the provocation, he waits a beat to respond. His silence (and friendly if fixed Mona Lisa smirk) trumps everyone else's bravado.”

“That he is such a cipher might seem frustrating, but Gosling's masculine, minimalist approach makes him mysteriously compelling. Yes, there's the fact that he's gorgeous. But he also does so much with just a subtle glance, by just holding a moment a beat or two longer than you might expect. He's defined not so much by who he is, but rather by what he does -- how he responds in an increasingly dangerous series of confrontations,” wrote AP’s Christy Lemire. “His demeanor is the perfect fit for the overall approach from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn; cool and detached, Drive feels like an homage to early Michael Mann.”

VIDEO: 'Drive': Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan Share Passionate Kiss in an Elevator

“[Gosling] knows how to shift gears and take scenic routes, expertly flexing his ever-increasing star power while pursuing the open road of creative freedom. And with Refn, he has found a simpatico road partner. In Drive, the actor and director look great with the wind in their hair,” said EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, though she was significantly less impressed with Mulligan’s on-screen contributions.

“Mulligan is a delicate and lovely rising talent, but she's confoundingly miscast in the role,” Schwarzbaum noted. “With Gosling going all silent and mysterious when the two are together, the pair never click. (The actor has much more chemistry with Breaking Bad's great Bryan Cranston as Driver's mechanic/agent/manager.)”

With regards to Mulligan’s role, THR’s McCarthy countered, “Mulligan, seen only in classy fare up to now, is a delightful choice as the sweet but bereft Irene.”

VIDEO: Ryan Gosling Takes to the Streets in 'Drive' Trailer

In a particularly chilly review, New York Mag’s David Edelstein skewers Gosling’s decision to star in the crime drama.

“Why would Gosling, a fascinatingly cerebral actor, take a role so far inside his comfort zone? Does he long to strike action-icon poses—to be the new Nic Cage?” he quipped. “He’s sane enough to keep the movie from drifting into Cagean camp, but considering where it does go, that’s a hollow victory.”

Following the release of Drive, Gosling can next be seen in George Clooney’s Ides of March. Opening the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 31, Ides will hit U.S. theaters on Oct. 7 via Columbia Pictures.

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