Turn off the Lights

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 

 

Rating
8.7

Comments

Meet the Author

Follow Us