The Gosling Trilogy
This post includes spoilers for both Ides of March and Drive. It details how Ryan Gosling's three movies this year actually could work together as an intriguing trilogy. Obviously, not everything fits but I think it works pretty damn well. If you've seen the movies and want to read a little yarn of mine, continue on.
I have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of "Drive" and one of the main reason was because, ironically, I had no idea what the Driver's drive was. The nameless anti-hero was a blank slate yet somehow Carey Mulligan's character was almost instantly in love with him and, even stranger, him to her. Why did this psychopath fall for her? I mean, yeah, she looks like Carey Mulligan but I felt like there needed to be more. There needed to be... The Ides of March.
As "Ides of March" wraps up, you can see Gosling's turn to the anti-heroic, psychopath and I could imagine him, after this first film of the trilogy fades to black, running away from politics and from the bullshit he has become. Not only is he helping someone he no longer believes in win but he's actually making the once-straight shooter into a fully flawed politician. As he told Molly, one mistake is all it takes and Stevie helped open the flood gates of corruption and let the dirty water drag Governor Morris away. So what does he do? Where does he go?
He trades the city of fake real heroes for the city of real fake heroes. He leaves the heavy lifting of politics for the behind-the-scenes danger of Hollywood and becomes a stunt man. Hiding from his past life in front of the cameras, he lives anonymously. He's just The Driver. And so as to not make the mistake he made before, he doesn't tie himself to a man that he believes in and who he thinks could win it all and make a difference; he ties himself to a born loser who is going nowhere fast.
To supplement his income, he goes from helping those who promise to help others but are only worried about their own self-interest, he works with honest-to-God criminals. And like with politicians, he might not be the person who actually does the deed but he'll help them get away clean. Still, he is haunted by Molly and what happened with her.
And THAT is why, when he sees Carey Mulligan's character in the supermarket with the son that Molly never had, he's drawn to her. He wants to help her. He wants to make up for his past mistake. He even goes so far to help her husband. Where once he took a straight man and pushed him to be crooked, he's now helping a dirty man go clean. When that blows up, when he once again fails, the anger that was hinted at in "Ides of March" comes out full force. He lashes out at the criminals in the way he wished he could have lashed out at the people that did him wrong in "Ides". Once again, he cleans up the mess and then leaves town. Carey Mulligans's character and her son are safe and he knows that he can never be the man that they deserve or need him to be. He's a bit of a monster. As the Scorpion says, it's in his nature.
Or so he thinks.
Because what happens next is that, not wanting to leave the city of LA, he heads to a place where Mullgian's working class character would never find him - the posh lounges and clubs of Los Angeles. Having been burnt twice, he foregoes all attachments and focuses on meaningless pleasures. He's an empty suit having empty sex. Until one day he sees himself looking at a man who is also lost after having invested his heart and soul into a relationship that turned out to be a lie. He wants to take the man under his wing and teach him how to live without the fear of getting hurt but in turn, he learns a life lesson of his own... in a little movie called "Crazy, Stupid, Love".
Needless to say, these don't work perfectly but I do think that the characters that Gosling have played to fit in to a decent enough emotional arc. He goes from being married to the job to finding love. He goes from the game of politics that will leave you jaded to the game of love that can leave you blissful. He allows himself to be overtaken by his inner demons but he battles them off and leaves the dark emptiness behind. And they all live happily ever after. Well, not Carey Mulligan's character who is still kind of slumming it but our boy Gosling comes out on top.