Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Ryan Gosling stars as… Ryan Gosling!


Ryan Gosling is definitely a surprise package! He has impressed me immensely with his performances of late! It’s fantastic to see big name Hollywood actors branch out and undertake serious, testing roles that can showcase their true talent. Gosling had been a favourite of mine ever since “Remember the Titans”, a film where he wasn’t too prominent, but his contribution was both entertaining and memorable nevertheless.

Lately, he has appeared to share qualities similar to that of Matthew McConaughey, in that, at one stage the world had this narrow-minded impression of him as nothing more than a bit of eye-candy, yet, he has stepped out of his comfort zone and shown the world he can seriously act, and he absolutely can!

He unfortunately falls ever so slightly short and the reason why seems to be difficult to break away from.

The thing that was the most impressive about McConaughey was that he took on several different and daring roles, with each one completely transforming the man, Ron Woodroof, enough said.

There doesn’t seem to be that quality in Gosling just yet. Yes, films such as “Drive”, “The Place Beyond The Pines”, “Gangster Squad” and now “Blue Valentine” have all been highly impressive when observing Gosling’s acting skills, and for the majority of those films, the role he undertook was brave and unusual, however, he seems to be playing all of these characters, whilst being Ryan Gosling.  To an extent, the same thing had been said about George Clooney, but Gosling’s performances don’t quite make you feel as of you’re watching a ‘complete’ character.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 7.15.53 pm

The example that always seems to pop up when I’m thinking about the continuing similarity in Gosling’s roles is his costume. Sure, this isn’t his fault, but his characters all seek to look very alike, which affects the believability and individuality of these particular personas. For instance, take a look at “The Driver”, “Luke” and “Julian” from “Drive”, “Luke” from “The Place Beyond the Pines” and “Luke” from “Only God Forgives”; now look at the real-life Gosling from a photo shoot. There seems to be a common theme hear; the man likes wearing white shirts, and if I’m not mistaken, the 2nd and 4th shirts are the exact same one!

Maybe this is me being too harsh on Ryan, maybe my standards have been raised so high by “Mr. 2013” (McConaughey) that I now have a high expectation level. To me, Ryan Gosling is an incredibly talented actor, it’s just his potential seemed blanketed by the frustrating sameness in each of his characters; it’s distracting and very difficult differentiate the various characters.

Some could say, (and i would completely agree), that films such as “Blue Valentine”, “Gangster Squad” and “The Ides of March” contradict what has been previously said as they do display Gosling changing his physical appearance in both costume and make-up.

In “Only God Forgives” however, I swear I was watching Ryan Gosling stroll around numerous surreally lit Asian hallways and proceed to stare at various people for extended periods of time; there didn’t seem to even be a ‘character’ as such to engage with or even begin to attempt to believe in; it was just pure Gosling in my opinion, and that was one of many factors that made it an alienating and dissatisfying picture.

Gosling has the potential. He is incredibly gifted and has a vast range of high quality films already under his belt. He just needs to take the next step and experiment with some even stranger and more demanding roles that change him physically and emotionally. Let’s hope he has something up his sleeve that will blow us away, McConaughey-style!


2 comments on “Ryan Gosling stars as… Ryan Gosling!

  1. Noémie
    April 5, 2014

    That’s funny how my “gosling experience” is quite different from yours regarding his movies haha. He first caught my attention in “Murder by Numbers” (not the best movie ever though…). He is described as a handsome and overly confident student while I though he was actually not handsome at all but had this huge charisma that followed him since (and that is probably what makes him attractive).
    Then I watched almost all his movies in theatre, and the few left on dvd (hmmm). , Perfect lover in the “Notebook”, as impressive as Hopkins in “The Fracture”, very good performances in “Stay” and “Danny Balint”, he totally blew me away in “Half Nelson”. He also impressed me in some movies that I didn’t like much such as “United States of Leland”, “Blue Valentine” or “All good things”.
    Then the Gosling mania started with “Drive” and “Crazy Stupid Love”, both very different where you could start seing him with new actor skills.
    My issue now is that I haven’t been impressed by his last performances in “Ides of March” and “the Place beyond the Pines” even if I really enjoyed those movies. I’ve seen him better than that with similar characters before. Also I haven’t been interested in watching “Gangster Squad” and “Only God Forgives” at all…
    So now I’m waiting to see if he’ll still be one of my favourite actors or if his best work will be sealed in the first 10 years of this century.

    I loved McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” but I really don’t see the similarities at all with Gosling…

    • wmsteele
      April 5, 2014

      Wow! Seems like you’ve seen almost everything he’s done!
      Yeah I wasn’t overly impressed with “The Place Beyond The Pines”, I mean it was somewhat gripping, but at the end of the day it was too long and just not my cup of tea. Don’t even bother with “Only God Forgives”! Seriously!

      Yeah my comparison to McConaughey is a little strange, and I guess seeing as I haven’t seen ‘everything’ Gosling has done it could seem weird. My experience with both actors seems to be quite similar given that I had doses of them at a younger age, didn’t really get into many of their works from then on and have only now seen the majority of their latest films (Gosling Mania as you put it) which have changed their careers no end!
      When looking at the two fork that angle, it seems McConaughey has gone that extra mile and proven himself as a ‘world class’ actor by undertaking Ron Woodroof and Rust Cohle is ‘True Detective’. He’s just come out of ‘McConaughey mania’ himself in some ways.

      Interesting to hear a different point of view, probably one that has more examples to fall back on. Thank you very much for your thorough and very interesting opinion Noémie 🙂

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