Gosling shines in both romcom and action films

 
Timothy Barber
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Film
CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE
Cert: 12A

YOU wait all year for a Ryan Gosling film (well, some people do, perhaps) and two come along at once. Here he plays Jacob, her muscle-bound playboy who takes cuckolded dad Steve Carrell under his wing to tutor him in the ways of being a right stud.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is not actually the lame-o bromance that description makes it sound like though – there is more to it, though perhaps not as much as the filmmakers behind it would like us to think.

Carrell, ever the middle-class, middle-management, nice-guy loser, is Cal, a 40-something bloke married to his high-school sweetheart Emily (Julianne Moore), who he leaves after she has admits to having an affair. Having never even dated another woman, Cal’s all at sea in the world of singledom until he meets slick player Jacob, who for some reason decides to mentor him.

But guess what? Jacob finds himself falling like never before for a sassy chick (played by girl of the moment Emma Stone), while even Cal and Emily’s teenage son has a problem of unrequited love to deal with.

It’s all rather twee and smug, frankly, though not without some sharp lines and charming moments. It’s helped along by a very talented, likeable cast – including cameos from Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon – and a script which avoids completely obvious scenarios.

Crazy, Stupid, Love doesn’t tell us much about love other than it can be a bit crazy and a bit stupid at times, but it’s more endearing and nuanced than most films occupying similar territory.

Film
DRIVE
Cert: 18

CRIME films and Los Angeles go together like peas in a pod, but it’s a long time since the classic combination has produced something as thrilling and as stylish as Drive. Ryan Gosling is the charismatic, unnamed petrolhead at the heart of the action – a mechanic and stunt driver for the movie business by day, and getaway man for armed robbers by night. He’s also a classic Hollywood antihero: a brooding, monosyllabic, toothpick-chewing loner, who’s cool as damn and up to his neck in all the wrong problems. These coalesce around his next-door neighbour Irene, a young mother played by An Education star Carey Mulligan. Just as Driver (as he’s known) is being stirred from his lonesome existence by this vulnerable woman and her son Benicio, her jailbird husband reappears. He’s in trouble with some very nasty people, and with Irene and Benicio at risk Driver volunteers to help. Naturally enough, things go very badly wrong indeed.

Drive is directed by Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, who made 2009’s viscerally marvellous Bronson. Here Refn confirms his exciting talent – Drive is a neon-lit thrill ride, making perfect use of its L.A. locations and steadily accelerates until it’s clattering along at 150mph. It may be horribly violent in places but it’s riveting and a beautiful homage to countless movies of the past.