Where to begin when talking about the magnificence of Drive? Director Nicholas Winding Refn (who also wrote the screenplay for the seminal British movie Bronson) and writer Hossein Amini combine their Danish and Iranian sensibilities to bring us a film that 1) Proves that American filmmakers are slacking in creating anything that will blow your fucking face off, 2) Is the first movie in a long time that wields the city of Los Angeles as a meaningful character of its own, and 3) Uses music in a way that makes it impossible to imagine the film without it.

"If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what." So begins Drive, with The Driver (Ryan Gosling) giving his spiel from the darkened confines of his apartment. Introduced to the seedy look of Downtown Los Angeles at night (scenes that, in many ways, echo the look and feel of Repo Man), The Driver heads out on a heist that reveals his efficacy as a getaway driver in the face of any conflict. Once his job is done, we watch him prowl the streets from an aerial perspective of L.A. that reveals its infinite highways, byways, and side streets. All to the sound of Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx's (of CSS fame) sinister and ethereal "Nightcall."

Gosling's stoicism as The Driver cannot be stressed enough. This quality is essential to emphasizing how incredible it is that he is able to fall in love with his next door neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), a somewhat stereotypical L.A. woman in that she is a waitress raising her son on her own until her Latino husband, Standard, gets out of prison for committing an armed robbery. The subtlety with which Winding Refn builds on their relationship reaches a zenith after Irene tells him that her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is getting out of jail in a week's time. Knowing that their days together will be cut short, he says nothing. At the welcome home party for Standard, one of the best scenes of the film crosscuts between Irene looking disinterested in her husband and The Driver overhearing the song that's blaring from the party, with the insanely appropriate lyrics, "I don't eat, I don't sleep. I do nothing but think of you. You keep me under your spell." It is one of the best visual elucidations of yearning you will ever see rendered on film.

Knowing that they can no longer pursue anything other than a friendship, The Driver appears content enough to be in Irene and her son's, Benicio (Kaden Leos), life in a platonic manner. Standard's criminal past, however, seems to remain his present as he is forced into robbing a pawn shop by Cook (James Biberi), who pairs him with an unlikely redhead ironically named Blanche (Christina Hendricks, who mainly just screams and gets her brains blown out in this role). The Driver is irrepressibly reeled into helping Standard pull off the heist so that he can keep Irene and Benicio out of harm's way. The job goes horribly awry and shifts the tone of the film to one of surrealistic, violent vengeance (vaguely Quentin Tarantino-inspired in that respect).

Unwittingly caught in a quagmire of deception, The Driver learns that Blanche knew Cook was planning to set them up and take all of the money. Only instead of forty thousand dollars, which is what they were told the amount would be, there turns out to be a million. Curious as to who is the real mastermind behind such a specific robbery, The Driver searches the bowels of L.A. (a.k.a. the strip club circuit) to find Cook and get him to confess to who instigated the job. When he learns the identity of the man who manufactured Standard's death to look like an accident, he realizes it has all come full-circle. Nino (Ron Perlman, the perfect man to play a repugnant gangster) and Bernie (Albert Brooks, who's looking real rough, real rough), a wealthy financier that The Driver's boss, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), has gotten him involved with are the responsible parties for sending The Driver on a blood-lusting quest for revenge.

Suffice it to say, Drive is ultimately a tragic love story (aren't all love stories though? The memorable ones anyway). There are so many beautiful nuances in this movie, so much attention to detail, and so little dialogue as compared with the usual fare you see in theaters. Truly, not enough positive comments can be said about Drive. And the fact that a Capra was involved in its making doesn't hurt either.