Ryan Gosling’s unnamed character is a solitary man with an unknown history. He often answers questions with silence. His sweet smile and polite demeanor help the audience find sympathy for his character even in the midst of some extremely gruesome acts.
The New York Times movie reviewer A.O. Scott describes the same sort of sympathy for Carey Mulligan’s character, Irene, “Ms. Mulligan’s whispery diction and kewpie-doll features have a similarly disarming effect. Irene seems like much too nice a person to be mixed up in such nasty business. Not that she’s really mixed up in it. Her innocence is axiomatic and part of the reason the driver [Ryan Gosling] goes to such messianic lengths to protect her” (NY Times).
The film stuck to an 80’s script until half way through when it took a turn that left the theater with nothing to do but laugh with surprise at the disturbing shift. Yet, somehow, director Nicolas Winding Refn managed to pull it off.
The score, by Grammy-winning score composer Cliff Martinez, carried the film and ensured each emotion was felt by the audience. With many dialogue-sparse scenes, the electronic pulsing and vibrating strings in the score helped to maintain the tension and anticipation – even clued the audience in on important plot details.
While it might not be a movie I’d like to watch over and over, each detail of the film – from cinematography to score to acting – was meticulously arranged to compliment one another. You won’t leave the theater disappointed. Stunned? Maybe. Disturbed? Most likely. But definitely not disappointed.