Gosling plays a toothpick-chewing hero who's more comfortable behind the wheel of a car than in conversation, a tough guy in the vein of a young Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen. By day he's a Hollywood stunt driver working with Bryan Cranston's Shannon, by night he gives crooks a five-minute window to leap into his getaway car and speed away with their loot. A botched robbery with Irene's husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) brings him to the attention of the villainous Nino (Ron Perlman) and Bernie (Albert Brooks), leading the protagonist to set out on a revenge rampage against LA mobsters.
Refn's art house sensibilities are at odds with Drive's generic premise, but they lend a surreal, feverish edge to the unfolding events. These tonal gear changes - from romance to ultra-violence, father-son story to crime drama - are certainly more satisfying than the clumsy approach in Jodie Foster's The Beaver. Refn's utilises a synth/ambient soundtrack to support his precise visuals, which ditch blockbuster fury in favour of amplifying gunshots and souped-up car engine revs for maximum impact. Drive is a stylish mainstream thriller infused with moody Scandinavian spirit. Gosling and Refn are reportedly planning to reunite on a remake of Logan's Run. On this evidence, the results could be spectacular.
> Watch two extended clips from Drive
> Ryan Gosling's Drive: In Pictures
> Cannes Film Festival complete coverage