Ryan Gosling’s filmography reads as one of the best in contemporary cinema. Never one to shy away from diversity – he’s been in both a horribly mushy love story and played someone in love with a blow up doll (Lars and The Real Girl), for crying out loud – his roles have found him both an appreciative and passionate audience.

And so too with his latest film, Nicholas Winding Refn’s masterful film noir/psychological thriller/violent horror/whatthehellisgoingon, Drive.

Gosling plays ‘Driver’ (no need for names) – film stuntman by day, getaway driver by night. Whatever he does, it’s all about the cars – smashing them up, driving them around at incredible speed, dodging the ensuing cops. He and the car are one.

Like Travis Bickle before him, ‘Driver’ is a loner, a weirdo, but intent on doing something that he feels is good and the character’s final journey is one of bloody vengeance. Gosling plays him to perfection, giving him a mixture of vulnerability and sinister knowingness.

Carey Mulligan is excellent as the main female character, a love interest for Gosling who’s married with a son. There’s no sex between them ([SPOILER]the nearest they get is an extremely dramatic kiss near the end of the film[END SPOILER]) but the chemistry and tenderness between the two is wonderfully intense. Indeed, the acting is so brilliant that they could be talking about paint drying and it’d be worth the ticket price. A supporting cast that includes Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks and the wonderful Bryan Cranston bring a group of deep and quite sinister characters to life.

But what is probably most startling about the film is its violence. Never one to shy away from full throttle, the blood and gore is very true to life. Okay, maybe not the actual acts, they’re obviously stylised, but if a character is shot in the head…you know they’ve been viscerally shot in the head.

Inevitably, there are many similarities with Taxi Driver featuring the aforementioned Travis Bickle, but Drive stands out on its own as a superb piece of modern cinema. It’s also nice to see that American films can still push the boundaries and not ridicule their audiences – they just need a Danish director to do it.