Ryan Gosling’s Driver and Jake Gylenhaal’s Lou Bloom. Both loners. Outsiders. Men who abide by a very strict and unwavering code. One a stoic, the other a chatty, ambitious lunatic. And, as this new supercut, titled “Driving at Night,” points out, both are men who navigate the neon-ensconced nighttime streets of Los Angeles for their own strange, and often violent, purposes. That’s right folks: “Drive” and “Nightcrawler” are the new breed of L.A. neo-noirs, suffused with a lingering sense of dread and mordant comedy, and punctuated by isolated moments that are as electric as they are sickening.
“Nightcrawler” is a much-lauded career high for leading man Jake Gyllenhaal and also a savagely entertaining black comedy about a young social climber without a conscience who stakes a grim fortune in a business that values and nourishes his amorality. In telling its twisted tale of a sociopath on the move, director Dan Gilroy evokes a clammy and addicting sense of the walls continually closing in – this was even true in the movie’s rare daytime scenes.
In comparison, Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” is a harder movie to categorize. It’s dreamier, less focused, and it doubles down on the fanboy gore and 80’s synth-pop to often hypnotic effect. It doesn’t seem maybe as cool now as it did in 2011, but as a film that reflects the toxic romance that only the city of angels can embody, it remains an oddly fascinating vision.
The movies themselves don’t have a whole lot in common, tonally or otherwise, but they’re both terrific L.A. movies, and there’s some visual parallels here that are hard to deny.