Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drive [2011]

By night he’s a getaway driver – by day he’s a Hollywood stunt driver – when he gets mixed up with a girl and the mob - things get violent.

First of all, I have been anticipating this film for several months now. The talent in front of the camera (Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks & Bryan Cranston) as well as the talent behind the camera (Nicholas Winding Refn) got me pretty psyched up for what appeared to be a hard hitting fast paced action film.

I really did not expect the film that I watched though. My presumption disparity was blown out of the theater – and though I expected something with more pep – I got an intelligent, beautiful film that’s going to linger with more far longer than what I went in expecting. I should have expected this considering Winding Refn was at the helm – as this was an essentially an extension of VALHALLA RISING – slow build ups – questions everywhere – and graphic acts of terrifying violence.

The film was all about building tension – the slow thoughtful pacing of the film – the long pauses in conversation – the low key ethereal synth music soundtrack – the static camera – was all carefully crafted and used in order to really help build up the underbelly of the film. When an act of violence would happen – it was graphic and startling – just the way it should be – it was realistic and horrifying. I gasped – LuLu Danger jumped – it was satisfying.

The acting was top notch – Ryan Gosling at times has an approach of being blank and not showing anything and it bothers me (FRACTURE) but when given a different context that bored/blank look of his has underlying issues – there’s nobody better. His lack of emotion – his lack of dialogue – just made his character endear to me more. LuLu and I walked out asking each other back and forth questions about him – agreeing there’s ton more that we’ll never know about him – and we loved it.

Carey Mulligan was sweet and complex – there was a certain level of complete perfection about how she behaved – the elevator scene will go down as one of the greatest scenes of her still very early career – she showed a maturity unlike many actresses and hit every emotional queue in such a broad spectrum like a fucking pro.

Albert Brooks is one of my favorite comedic actors of all time – but in DRIVE he terrified me. As much as Gosling kept it internal – Brooks allowed it to flow through his pores a bit more – and I got the feeling he was a man willing to do anything (there’s early Oscar talk for Brooks in this role – and I agree – I was seriously terrified of him). Bryan Cranston has a knack for acting fatherly and believable in whatever role he tackles – which he mixed with a slimy fast talker into this role – and he did it with a certain expertise.

I don’t have any complaints about the film. There is no other director that could have pulled off a film like this – the tone – the artistic styling. The acting was all exactly pitch perfection for what this film became. Maybe it needed more driving considering it was called DRIVE – but that’s not the point.

The comparisons to exploitation films are fair – with a slow building sense of tension exploding into graphic and perverse violence. I can see how this film wouldn’t speak to everyone’s tastes – as I realized how the tone of the movie was being set very early on – I worried LuLu wouldn’t like it – but I think it’s the reality of the film’s story and the compelling performances - really proved me wrong and she loved it. I did too.

P.S. LuLu and I were enthralled by Gosling’s white satin jacket the entire film – there was a certain fucking badass look to that jacket – though it was a dated look. It really reminded me of how Christina Lindberg looked in THRILLER with the eye patch and trench coat and how there’s something simplistically amazing about it. If LuLu and I ever make it to a Comic Con – I think I know what I would like for us to dress up as.

P.P.S. I'll throw my hat in there and say even though I've been incredibly picky about what I've watched this year - this is my favorite of the lot thus far in 2011.


  1. I thought this was just a Transporter wanna-be.
    Book cover judging a bit I guess.

  2. That's what I thought too - but it's certainly not as gonzo as TRANSPORTER - it's gonzo in a different way...

    I've since heard it described as a John Hughes/Neo-80's noir film - which once I fully wrap my head around that statement - I think I'll agree with it...