Blood, fuel power Gosling debut at Cannes festival

Fri May 20, 2011 9:30am EDT
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By Nick Vinocur

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Hollywood darling Ryan Gosling gets spattered in blood and fuel in Danish film noir "Drive," delighting Cannes critics who whooped at the film's odd blend of Hollywood dazzle and deadpan Nordic humour.

The Canadian actor, known for his roles in "The Notebook" and "Lars and the Real Girl," plays a single-minded stunt car driver who falls in love with a neighbor and gets embroiled in a gory killing fest to protect her from mafia tormentors.

Almost entirely silent throughout the film, Gosling never varies in his devotion to his love interest -- played by British actress Carey Mulligan -- or loses his sang-froid when racing down Los Angeles freeways to a pumping 1980s synth-pop score.

Highly stylized and peppered with profanity, "Drive" rolls out scene upon scene of comic gore, prompting an audience to laugh and clap as Gosling's character stomps a villain's head to a messy pulp in an elevator seconds after a passionate kiss with Mulligan in the same confined space.

The result is a bizarre concoction, with eerie aspects reminiscent of David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," moments that recall Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" and angst-laden love scenes that would not be out of place in a Scandinavian drama.

"The movie is about a man who drives around Los Angeles at night listening to pop music," Gosling told a press conference. "We also got the idea that the driver shouldn't be talking."

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, 40, known for genre movies like the crime trilogy "Pusher," said inspiration came from literature -- a 2005 book of the same name by James Sallis -- music, and the scenery of Los Angeles at night.