I Didn't Want To Like Ansel Elgort, But Here We Are

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.
If you had told me two months ago that I would now be regularly checking Ansel Elgort's Instagram stories for updates on his life, I would have shrugged.
That's because two months ago, I didn't feel hot or cold about Ansel Elgort. He just didn't register on my radar of things to care about. I didn't see The Fault In Our Stars, and was too busy staring at Theo James in Divergent to care about whoever was playing Shailene Woodley's brother. And then came Baby Driver.
I went in to the press screening of Edgar Wright's "action musical" excited to see Jon Hamm. I left obsessed with Ansel Elgort.
(Note: This has happened to me once before. In 2003, I went to see Pirates of The Caribbean for Orlando Bloom and then I saw Johnny Depp, and, despite our tumultuous relationship, I've never been the same since.)
So, how exactly did this happen? The first reason is simple: Ansel Elgort is very good in this movie. He has major screen presence, magnetically moving across the screen as Baby, a getaway driver with tinnitus who drowns out the ringing in his ears with an impressive arsenal of tunes. At 23, Elgort manages to hold his own in scenes with Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx, which is no small feat. But mostly, he's just so damn charming. And not in a smarmy, gooey or even smoldering way, but in an aw-shucks, slightly broody but also cheerful, pouty-lipped way. He is the song of summer of baes; the ice cream sundae of crushes — the kind that gives you a wild sugar high, but then makes you feel slightly wistful about it later.
He is charming like Ryan Gosling (check out his Frank Ocean-approved cover of La La Land's "City of Stars") — only weirder. Here they are side-by-side:

Jon, Edgar, Ryan and I

A post shared by Ansel Elgort (@ansel) on

This is a guy who quit his side-DJ career as Ansølo (!), only to make his music comeback frolicking in a bathtub with longtime girlfriend Violetta Komyshan in a frankly insane and addictive music video. (Yes, okay, I sometimes listen to "Thief" on repeat. Like, a lot. Whatever.)
His social media presence is a mix of aspirational celebrity living, family love (his parents are fashion photographer Arthur Elgort and opera director Grethe Barrett Holby), adorable couple pics (he really loves his girlfriend, whom he's been with since his days at New York's LaGuardia High School — yes, the one from Fame), basketball shots, goofy film promotion, and very moody portraiture.

Currently in ?- @carmelovarela #BabyDriver

A post shared by Ansel Elgort (@ansel) on

And singing; lots of singing.
In Baby Driver, Ansel (after spending all this time scrolling back into his Instagram, I feel like we're on a first name basis now) displays a similar versatility. He's kind of cocky, but vulnerable; goofy, but also sad. His face is insanely expressive, which is a good thing, since Baby doesn't like to talk much. He's romantic — sorry Violetta, but I was rooting for him and Lily James. He's simply and honestly believable, a rare trait in characters these days. There's a reason this movie currently enjoys a 100% Rotten Tomato rating, and had its August release pushed up to prime Blockbuster season, and that reason starts with an A. (And ends with "gort.")
And — not that it's okay to objectify men or anything — he's 6'4. Just putting that out there into the universe. Do with it what you will.

A post shared by Ansel Elgort (@ansel) on

"Baby Driver" opens in theaters everywhere on June 28.
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