After seeing and loving Valhalla Rising (review on the way), I decided to check out Nicolas Winding Refn's other films. His first was Pusher, number one in a trilogy of Pusher films. I was not disappointed.
It follows the life of a Danish drug dealer as he drifts from club to club and home to home, working coke deals and violently collecting money when force is called for. He has a strange relationship with a high-price callgirl and can barely manage a human or personal life with her or his friends. He is living blankly, and he gets in way over his head.
Judging by Valhalla Rising, I suspected that Refn is really good at creating atmosphere, and Pusher certainly confirmed it. The film is well shot and looks great for its low budget - the lower-end camera very much suits the seediness of the locales, the characters, and the subject matter, and is an instance where a filmmaking setback becomes a subtle boon. The acting is tight and with talent, as the dialogue is incredibly believable (so much so that it's probably improvised) and the gangsters are entirely lived in. You really get the sense that you're looking into a very real and not-so-underground world.
So: Great stuff, I can't wait to watch the next two Pusher films.