Archive for the ‘Drive’ Category

Drive – review


There are very few actors that are capable of acting in a film and transcending it to another level because of their performance, especially with very little dialogue at all.  Brad Pitt was able to do that in this year’s Moneyball, and Ryan Gosling does an even better job of it, in what I think is the best film of the year so far, Drive.

Gosling stars as a no name driver who pulls off jobs as a wheelman at night and works as a movie stuntman and mechanic by day, all under the watchful eye of Shannon (Bryan Cranston).  Shannon owns and operates a body shop while also having ties to mafioso types Bernie (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman).  Shannon has known Bernie for years and is hoping to break into stock car racing with Gosling as his driver, backed by the funds of Bernie.  Gosling is the best driver Bernie has ever seen.  Unfortunately a little bit of misfortune may derail those plans.

Gosling is very mechanical and logical in his thought process and movement throughout the film.  He comes off as a quiet man, but there is something that we don’t know about him that we desperately want to know about him.  That’s the strength of Gosling’s performance.  He’s able to do so much, while doing so little.  He quickly befriends his neighbor Irene (Carrie Mulligan) and her son Benicio while also learning that her husband Standard will soon be released from prison.  It seems that Standard’s troubles are far from over.  He ran up a debt in prison while paying for protection, and now the men who protected him want their money, and are forcing him to rob a pawn shop to pay them.

Gosling agrees to help Standard by being his wheel man, but only if the people who Standard owes agree to let Standard walk, and leave Irene and Benicio alone as well.  Blanche (Christina Hendrick) is forced to go along to make sure that job is pulled off right, but a lot goes wrong once the robbery takes place, and Gosling aims to find out why, and who is behind it all.

Drive borrows a lot from other films such as Bullit, Vanishing Point, and The Day of the Locust, along with films by such directors as Alejandro Joworsky, Wong Kar Wai, and David Lynch.  It is like films by these directors in a lot of respects, but so unlike any other film I’ve seen in such a long time that it stands on it’s own as a truly fantastic and original film.  Director Nicolas Winding Refn is able to create an 80’s arthouse cyber-punk love story rapped inside the guise of an action film, larger fueled by the hard synth soundtrack by composer Cliff Martinez.  The score for the film is one of the main characters that really pushes this film into a completely different direction.  Refn, who won best director at Cannes for the film this year, is able to create a film that plays like a three act play that is refreshing, beautiful, and violent all at the same time.

The stoic nature of Gosling’s character changes drastically as we see an extremely violent side to him come out throughout the acts of the film.  Whatever it is from his past that he is holding inside, it’s starting to leak as the film becomes more intense, and the situations he finds himself in become more dire.  He plays both good and evil, and it’s the most interesting character I have seen all year in a film.

Drive is such a fantastic film because it is able let it’s influences be present while also creating something completely fresh and new.  This is something that director Quentin Tarantino is a master of, and Nicolas Winding Refn is taking his cues from the master and doing one hell of a job here.

Grade: A+