– October 26, 2011; Rhys Smith, Contributor
What have you done in the past year? Gotten into university? Achieved a 4.0 G.P.A.? Learned how to dougie? All of these are admirable feats, mind you, but unless the last four films you’ve been in are Blue Valentine, Crazy Stupid Love, Drive, and The Ides of March, it can be pretty hard to compete. Phenomenal actor Ryan Gosling is on the tip of everybody’s tongues, and he’s had a pretty extraordinary past twelve months!
Born a stone’ throw away in London, Ontario, Gosling got into acting as a teenager, but really saw his efforts achieve fruition until the 2004 smash hit The Notebook. Over the next few years, Gosling was in a few notable, critically acclaimed films (Half Nelson comes to mind), but began to fade out of the limelight (he barely appeared in anything at all from 2007-2010). Honestly, if you asked me who Ryan Gosling was in 2008, I probably would have only pretended to know.
But almost one year ago, Gosling came out from the shadows with the poignant Blue Valentine, which saw him reap all kinds of award nominations. The edgy, depressing story of a failed relationship with a hip soundtrack, Blue Valentine got people talking about him once again. Furthermore, roughly half a year later the star studded Crazy Stupid Love arrived in cinemas, which saw Gosling take on an equally merited, laugh out loud approach. It was not until September 2011, though, that Gosling was drawn into the center of the cinematic universe.
Enter Drive, an extraordinarily violent art house action thriller, so reminiscent of 1980’s Hollywood cinema. Gosling plays a quiet but hard as nails car mechanic who dabbles in stunt driving and moonlights as a getaway driver. After a new friend’s spouse gets involved with the mob and proceeds to botch a pawnshop robbery (where Gosling is the getaway driver for), Gosling is entangled in a messy, brutal web of crime that he has to hack and slash his way out of. Aside from the highly thrilling plot, Gosling delivers a fantastic acting job: for the first half of the film, his character barely speaks, radiating a coarse but oddly gentle personality. In addition, Drive is shot exceedingly well and is complemented by an electro synth pop soundtrack that contributes to the film’s retro atmosphere. A good premise to begin with, Ryan Gosling makes Drive very worthwhile, and is maybe even worth of an Academy Award.
Only a couple of weeks later and just a few weeks ago, The Ides of March came to cinemas on a fanfare of hype. Again starring Gosling with an even more star-studded cast than Crazy Stupid Love (George Clooney, who also directs the film, acts alongside Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei), The Ides of March is a fictional political thriller following the Ohio Primary Elections as part of securing the US presidential nomination. Though not especially groundbreaking (Ides seems reminiscent of past political dramas conveying “backroom politics”), the film is highly entertaining and Gosling once again delivers a dynamite performance; he does an exceptional job of portraying the cutthroat nature of American politics through blackmail and deviance. Although not as ambitious or interesting as Drive, Ryan Gosling makes Ides of March a rather exciting film.
It is difficult to speculate as to why Gosling has made a comeback in Hollywood in the past twelve months; perhaps the reasoning is personal, or simply that he has improved vastly as an actor. What is important is that he is on top of the entertainment “A” list for the time being. Personally, I really like Ryan Gosling: he can act in a variety of roles, does not appear to be conceited, and refrains from public verbal assault (Christian Bale, anyone?). Time will tell if he earns a spot in the pantheon of great Hollywood actors, but for now, we might as well sit back, enjoy the ride, and possibly consider screening one of his films here at Woodsworth. Hear that, Woodsworth Movie Club?