Ryan Gosling is the Driver (no other name given, except for “kid”), a mysterious, taciturn young man who’s an L.A. mechanic and stunt driver by trade, but occasionally moonlights as a wheel-man for low-lives. Then neighbor Carey Mulligan and her son Leos enter his life, inadvertently getting him mixed up in some sordid business with the last people in the City of Angels he should ever mess with. Superior neo-noir thriller is an ultra-stylish riff on cinematic post-modernism and anti-hero crime pictures, with tense, crisply-assembled action sequences and potent eruptions of graphic violence, yet it’s focused far more on mood and character than getting the adrenaline pumping. Gosling does more with controlled looks and enigmatic smirks than the handful of lines he’s afforded; his understated romance with Mulligan is expressed almost entirely in their elegantly elongated gazes. Albert Brooks, however, walks away with the movie, cast against type as a fairly soft-spoken but ruthless crime boss, geniality masking chilly menace. The emphasis on preening, existential dread does short change the narrative twists, especially in relation to Ron Perlman’s Jewish gangster character and motivations, but it’s tough to care about any of that in the moment. Arthouse genre filmmaking at its purest and most viscerally impactful.