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Drive Review

Simon's Rating: 8.5/10 Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.7/10 (3 reviews total) “Driver,” as he is unofficially known, is an isolated loner, a quiet, shy, awkward individual that nevertheless brims with a hidden and unexplained fiery anger. The portrayal of said driver (who is actually equal parts mechanic, stunt driver and wheelman) by Ryan Gosling is understated to the point of almost non-existence — not coincidently exactly how his character prefers it. Gosling speaks with his expression, his silence and his demeanor, not with snappy dialogue and quick comebacks, and if you do receive a swift, passionate retort it may be the last thing you hear. In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel it important that those who are wavering on maneuvring their way to the theaters to see Drive that it is in no way an “action” movie, nor is it a heist film. Nicolas Winding Refn’s film absolutely blurs the lines of genres, but if a label must be placed I would deem it an atypical character study/revenge film with thriller elements. But I strongly digress; that is not to say those of the blockbuster persuasion will find nothing to like about Drive. A plethora of fantastically nuanced performances, stunningly creative camera shots and a pulse-heightening score are only the pillars that support a white-knuckle exercise in dead quiet, nail-biting non-events and impending dread. drivepic2 After dabbling in the criminal world (but with a strict set of rules: exactly five minutes, no gun and he drives), Driver moves to a new apartment where he eventually crosses pass with his shyly attractive next door neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her son, Benico, a precocious and strong-willed young boy wonderfully brought to life by young Kaden Leos. Discovering her husband is in jail, he grows close to the duo in his own low-key fashion. Events quickly escalate, however, as the reformed felon is released and Driver discovers (after walking in on the aftermath of a vicious beating) that the man is in hot water and owes money to the worst of people. Things go from shit to fubar as the heist to repay his debts goes awry and Driver becomes fatally tied to the gangsters. Drive takes seemingly commonplace cinematic events and spins them like a donut. The love story is one of those complex “non love stories” love stories, the relationship between Driver and his crush’s husband goes in a completely unexpected direction and one of the mobsters (an incredible Albert Brooks) is more of a weary businessman than a Pacino-esque spittle-delivering ball of rage. In addition, the brief sequences of violence are brutally and graphically realized, as are the two main car-centered adrenaline sequences. One involves a prelude heist which introduces us to the steely nerved driver and the second an escape that is among the best-choreographed action scenes in years.  Simply, Driver is not particularly unique in its subject matter but instead in its execution. drivepic1 Drive's faults come almost exclusively from the second act, as driver comes to spend more time with Mulligan’s Irene. The shortcomings are not because it represents a lull in tension, but rather because Refn mistakes moments of silence — in what should be a dialogue-heavy exchange between two people obviously attracted to one another — for character development. Irene and Driver are both damaged, quiet people to be certain, but the 25-minute segment is defined by a single word spoken preceding 30 seconds of awkward-glare, fidgeting silence. This is not meaningful content (though I do applaud those involved in such scenes for doing so very well). The director also seems like he needs to remind people this is an independent feature, inserting indie/hipster music at all possible venues, that while unique, rarely fits the scene and serves as a glaring distraction. After that shaky follow-up to the opening, Drive explodes and left me nearly twitching in my seat as the camera insisted on constantly lingering off of important events long enough to drive you mad. Refn’s extensive use of slow motion wonderfully serves as a support mechanism to the film's inherent style (and deliberate pacing). When not slowed, the camera leans at any number of distinct angles; one such climatic encounter is filmed focusing on only the shadows of those involved and is among one of the most brilliant executed instances of verité style of filmmaking I have ever seen. Not only because it is shot so uniquely, but also how even the shadows of the actors seem to evoke pathos and pain. I could not entirely lambast an individual who hated Drive, but I truly believe you will find many more of the mainstream-converted than haters, at least until awards season comes upon us, when you can expect Drive to be a major contender in numerous categories. Refn has proven himself to be an auteur capable of great style and an actor's director, and Gosling showcases his abilities as a leading man to reckon with. I would say that Drive officially kicks off the post-summer/Oscar season and if we have more of this on the way, autumn will be a welcome retreat from what has been a lackluster year at the movies. Rating: 8.5/10 Drive Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn Written by Hossein Amini Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston  Other Player Affinity Reviews Steven thought:  "Refn’s film is an exercise in the tried and true lesson that less is more, and more when it follows less is pulse-pounding mayhem. When each slowly mounting scene finally explodes, the rush of adrenaline is so startling that you will either gasp or laugh from shock. Drive offers nothing the “stoic hero takes revenge” plot hasn’t seen before, but you’ve never seen it done in this seemingly counterintuitive but amazingly effective fashion. It takes awhile for Drive to get rolling, but that appears to be Refn’s style: tantalize the audience with brilliant camera angles, an unpredictable score and churn the suspense to a tar-thick consistency. This approach will undoubtedly scare off some moviegoers yet completely awe others, but from a filmmaking perspective the artistry of the shots and takes puts Refn easily into a category of elite directors. So say what you will of character motivation, romantic subplots and the the fact that much of the second act rests completely on an improbable coincidence, but Refn’s film cuts hard and fast to the core; it makes you pay attention and then forces you swallow, just as any veritable tour de force ought to. Long term, count Gosling and Refn as two such forces." Rating: 8.5/10 John thought: "Drive occupies a totally unique space on the cinematic continuum, existing somewhere among Death Wish, Double Indemnity, Batman, and Miami Vice. However, it's not the pulse-pounding, excitement-generating movie you might expect. It unfolds at a very slow pace, and the plot is kept to a minimum. The film instead relies on style to keep you interested, and luckily, director Nicolas Winding Refn has plenty of that to spare. You might not find yourself head-over-heels in love with this film, but between Refn's exceptional direction, Ryan Gosling's unusual but unforgettable performance, and the very cool soundtrack, you'll almost certainly admire it on some level. It really is unlike pretty much anything you've ever seen." Rating: 9/10 Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.7/10   


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