“Drive” (2011)

It’s hard to really articulate my thoughts on Drive without giving it a full on tongue-bath because, well, I love the movie.  It’s easily one of my favourite of the year, if not all time.  It’s that rare kind of film that manages to display arthouse sensibilities within the framework of Hollywood cinema.  While the story is somewhat predictable and certainly not something we haven’t seen before, it’s never been presented with the same beautiful sheen that director Nicolas Winding Refn somehow managed to glaze over his first Hollywood effort.

The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is an enigma wrapped in mystery, we’re never explicitly told his story or past, and only through his actions do we get a slight insight into the nature of the characters upbringing.  The Driver is a modern version of Eastwood’s The Man With No Name, he’s cold, quiete, and reversed, but not to the point that the stoicism becomes over the top — as the story plays out and we come to understand a bit more about The Driver his emotional shalowness makes increasing sense.

Working three jobs: a Hollywood stunt driver; a mechanic; and most importantly a wheelman, it’s imediately clear that above money, morals, or even the law The Driver chooses to only concern himself with driving.  It’s probably not all that surprising that a film called Drive withs a main character known only as “The Driver” would feature a lot of driving, but what probably will surprise most veiwers is the nature of that driving.  Apart from a briliantly executed opening chase sequence , and a couple of much smaller ones peppered throughout the film, the majority of the driving in Drive is just Ryan Gosling cruising around LA listening to 80s music.  Driving is his purpose in life, and what emotions he isn’t capable of expressing outwardly he releives inwardly through these cruises.

The 80s music in question is a mix of perfectly selected songs and a great score by Cliff Martinez.  The score perfectly represents the music from the era that The Driver seems to have his head stuck in, and enhances and completes some of the greater scenes in the film.

After moving in to a new apartment The Driver forms a relationship with Irene, one of his neighbours played wonderfully (as always) by Carrey Mulligan.  He takes an instant liking to her young son and the three begin to spend more and more time together.  Whats so beautiful about the relationship between Mulligan and Gosling is the sheer lack of dialogue through which it develops.  Silence in romance isn’t really a new concept (it’s also applied expertly in Like Crazy, another film to be released this year) but it’s a breathe of fresh air in a genre where romance is typically shallow and one note.  In one memorable scene Irene tells the Driver that her husband will be returning from prison in a week as he’s driving her to work.  He slows down the car for a moment, as if contemplating what he’s just been told, and in silence carries on as if unaffected.

When her husband Standard (Oscar Isaacs) does return he doesn’t confront the Driver, but befriends him instead.  Later, after the Driver finds Standard beaten and bloodied in their apartment’s parking garage desperately calling out for his son The Driver takes a more personal involvement in the family’s lives.  It turns out Standard is in debt with some mobsters (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman) and if he doesnt rob a pawn shop to pay up Irene and their son are in danger.  Wordlessly the Driver seers with anger and offers his services in aid of his new friends.  Things don’t go quite as planned, and quickly spiral out of control.

Drive is a slow-burning action thriller peppered with flashes of brutal ultra-violence the likes of which we haven’t seen in years.  It doesn’t revolutionize or subvert the genre to which it belongs, instead focusing it’s intention on being flawless and perfect in every way possible.

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Categories: Reviews

Author:Ryan Crockett

Super-geek and cinephile, artist and writer, Ryan Crockett knows way too much about the French Revolution.

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4 Comments on ““Drive” (2011)”

  1. September 24, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    “It’s hard to really articulate my thoughts on Drive without giving it a full on tongue-bath because, well, I love the movie.”

    I feel the exact same way. Nice review, spot on about the music too.

  2. September 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Man, I had a copy of that sentence on my clipboard and then when I scroll down, someone else already pasted it too! Great opener I guess

    “It’s hard to really articulate my thoughts on Drive without giving it a full on tongue-bath” – this literally made me laugh out loud.

    I’ll just say it again here. If this movie – which is a great movie – had more action towards the end. You know, lets say one last big driving sequence – I think it pushes it into all time great territory for me. Its so restrained that I thought the entire time I was watching a spring compressing and it was going to explode into a high octance finale.

    Not that the ending wasn’t excellent. It was just very low key. Compared to my expectations. Maybe I grow to embrace that fully, I dont know. That’s what kept it from earning my first A++ though. And I thought for a while it would.

  3. September 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    I absolutely loved this film as well. It’s refreshing to see an action-thriller that isn’t about quick cutting car chases, generic one-liners and ridiculous set pieces every 3 minutes. Glad you liked it!

    • September 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by man! I besides perhaps Fincher’s The Girl With Dragon Tattoo, Drive will end up being my favourite film of the year. I’ve watched it 4 times at this point, still hasn’t gotten old :P.

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