Reviews of Drive
Displaying all 30 reviews
A transcendent classic, Drive takes a universe of inspiration and distills it down into 100 minutes of cinematic bliss. From the casting (Gosling, Mulligan, Cranston, Hendricks, Perlman) to the sound design (put on the opening sequence and close your eyes), everything is in its right place with all the fat trimmed away. Taking the narrow morality out of the superhero genre, our driver is a “real” hero only in the sense that he is real with all the hostility and hate usually reserved for those bad sharks. Hossein Amini’s script reads like David Lynch doing a comic book: all the banal romantic gravitas between Gosling and Mulligan being countered by action sequences whose sheer volume and intensity rip a hole right through that space between your ears. Yet it is the pace of Drive that is perhaps the film’s greatest accomplishment. Shots linger but never too long, cameras dolly in, watches tic-tic-tic. Something is happening here. You may have noticed you’re closer to the edge of your couch. Don’t be afraid. It’s just your body letting your mind know that it’s discovered something significant. Drive is that rare film that is completely conceived from start to finish. There are no accidents, no improvisations. Only precision, technical excellence and healthy dose of that magic they call “atmosphere.” If Drive was a type of movie (and I don’t mean genre) I would never stop watching it. Alas, when the film fades on the neon streets of L.A. and the credits roll behind that seriously incredible soundtrack, an experience too electric for stooges and stiffs has come to an end. So put away your vocabulary words, kids, cos this ride is pure pleasure.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Um teledisco de 100 minutos.
Um filme diferente na medida que cria alguma coerência emotiva entre os personagens, sem ser nem muito inteligente nem um filme de acção pura, ficando numa espécie de limbo cinematográfico. A acção é bem construída, o argumento é sólido do princípio ao fim… mas a escolha da banda sonora é… a bem dizer… péssima. Apesar de, a título individual, as canções corresponderem a excelentes álbuns e artistas, em filme, passo a crer que os americanos ainda não entenderam que, por vezes, o silêncio, é a melhor arma… ou, neste caso, a melhor banda sonora.
“Bota” música no filme. Pode ser que esconda certas passagens sonoras no filme… e suavize a montagem pouco rítmica – uma escolha algo ilógica para o tipo de filme. E para quem fora o realizador de… Pusher.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
Beberapa bulan yang lalu gw barter film ama temen gw,dia nanya film apa yang akhir2 ini bagus,gw jawab Drive,dia nonton,begitu selesai dia bilang filmnya biasa aja,agak aneh,absurd malah,dia ga suka ama performa Ryan Gosling sendiri yang mukanya kelewat datar,dalam hati gw “wah baru kali ini gw ketemu manusia yang ga suka Drive”,i know-i know,masalah selera,cuman ya,gw bingung aja,dimana sih letak jeleknya film Drive ini,karena saat gw nonton,film ini terlalu sempurna buat gw,ga ada jelek2nya,dan setelah gw nonton untuk kedua kalinya (depan laptop,yang pertama di bioskop),finnaly i know kenapa ga semua orang bisa menyukai film Drive yang bergenre Art-House namun judul dan posternya bergenre balapam,dan sampai sekarang gw juga masih bingung,art-house itu artinya apaan sih?
Drive yang notabene besutan sutradara antah berantah bernama Nicolas Winding Refn merupakan sebuah film yang disebut2 sebagai best arthouse dan one of the best movie in 2011,menceritakan seseorang supir tukang kabur penjahat,at the same time,dia adalah seorang mekanik di sebuah bengkel dan seorang stuntman film Hollywood,1 orang dengan 3 pekerjaan,hari2 itu terus berlangsung sampai satu kali waktu dia bertemu dengan tetangga apartemennya yang bernama Irene,jatuh cinta dari mata turun kehati,sang Driver pun mabuk kepayang dilanda asmara karena muka unyu Irene,sampai satu kali waktu,semua berubah ketika suami Irene,yang bernama Standart (standart banget ya namanya),keluar dari Penjara.
Drive adalah sebuah film yang didesain sebagai sebuah film pengaduk emosi dan jiwa lewat alunan musik khas retro tahun 70 dan 80,nya.dimana sejak opening scene dimulai,Drive sudah menunjukan sisi jadulnya lewat iringan shoot2 kota beserta Ryan Gosling yang muter2 naik mobil,hal itu diperkuat dengan tone suram dari Kachinsky yang berjudul “Nightcall” yang sukses bikin bulu kuduk gw merinding (suara penyanyinya suram,persis kayak suara pengamen di warung ayam panggang ma Haji,jangan-jangan?),sejak awal,Drive mencoba memberi tahu penontonnya bahwa Drive bukanlah sebuah film Car-Heist dengan adegan kejar-kejaran yang sampai 50 mobil meledak (gila,gw aja belum pernah ngeliat film yang sampai kejar-kejaran 50 mobil meledak,kalau ada ntar PM gw ya,gw demen tuh nonton begituan),sang sutradara antah berantah sejak dimulainya film ini mencoba menampilkan yang namanya Low-Risk getaway alias mengemudi mobil dengan se-efektif dan se-efisien mungkin,tanpa akan terjadinya baku hantam macam Van Diesel dan Dwayne Johnson di Fast Five,lah ini kenapa malah ngomong ke Fast Five,haduh haduh.
Seiring berkembangnya cerita,penonton dihadapkan dengan sebuah film terlelet macam siput yang pernah ada,bayangin aja gerakan kameranya yang kelewat lambat luar biasa itu,namun 1 hal yang pasti,apa yang coba Drive tawarkan bukanlah sebuah genre film Romansa yang itu-itu saja,bukan juga sebuah film action semacamnya,bukan juga film Thriller dengan seorang psikopat,Drive mencoba memeberikan sesuatu yang sederhana,menceritakan seseorang yang kesepian,seseorang tanpa nama yang memang terlihat jelas dari ekspreasi raut mukanya,wajah pria itu tidak menampakan suatu suka cita apapun,sampai satu kali waktu ia bertemu dengan seorang ibu dan seorang anak ,yang merubah hidupnya,Drive itu sederhana,namun entah kenapa,kesederhanaannya itu membuatnya istimewa
Drive tidak sepenuhnya lamban macam Honda Lagenda maupun Honda Astrea,Drive kadangkala menunjukan sisi kekerasannya yang ditata dengan Sinematografi dan pergerakan kamera yang menawan,cukup membuat gw neguk aer coca-cola sampe 4 teguk perdetik,mengingat adegan itu jarang sekali ada di film akhir-akhir ini yang bisa begitu level adegan kekerasannya,yaa,sadisme yang artistik lah kalo boleh dibilang,ditemani dengan iringan lagu yang sering diputer mtv di global tv pas tahun 2005 kebawah,Drive berhasil merubah apa itu yang disebut mimpi buruk menjadi mimpi absurd,Drive itu disturbing,gak cuman Disturbing,Drive di satu sisi merupakan sebuah film yang Annoying namun disisi lain,Drive adalah sesuatu yang Amazing,menyenangkan,sekaligus menegangkan,sebuah pengalaman menonton film ter-aneh yang pernah gw alami pas gw masih umur 14 tahun.
Selesai nonton Drive,gw keluar dari gedung bioskop Blitz Megaplex Grand Indonesia yang berada disekitaran Jakarta,sambil menunggu taksi,kepala gw masih berisi dengan setiap adegan yang ada di Drive,setiap iringan musik yang tercipta dan masuk dalam telinga gw,setiap ucapan Ryan Gosling yang kadang membikin gw goosebumps dengan sendirinya,hingga ending filmnya sendiri yang nyaris membikin gw semaput dan membuat gw kena penyakit vertigo sekaligus memotivasi gw supaya pas gede gw jadi tukang mekanik mobil biar bisa ketemu wanita secantik Carrey Mulligan,Drive menurut gw adalah sebuah inspirasi,sebuah film Taxi Drivernya Martin Scorcese untuk jaman sekarang,sebuah neo-noir bagi anak muda yang dilanda kegalauan khas Black Berry Messenger,dan saat masuk kedalam taksi blue-bird,gw melihat nama supirnya Mujianto,namun entah kenapa wajah Mujianto yang duduk disebelah kanan gw itu seakan-akan berganti menjadi wajah seorang Ryan Gosling,wajah sang Driver,wajah seorang hero-human-being,dan dalam perjalanan pulang menuju arah tebet jakarta selatan,gw menyadari,barusan gw menonton film yang menginspirasi dan merubah hidup gw,sebuah pengalaman di bulan Desember 2011 yang gak akan pernah gw lupakan,sebuah Liburan hari natal yang menyenangkan,dan lagu College-A Real Heropun berdenging dan berbunyi dikepala gw,menemani kesendirian gw di kursi penumpang dalam perjalanan pulang.
PS:sebenarnya gak sendiri sih,di kursi belakang ada kedua orang tua gw sama nenek gw,mereka sekeluarga ikut nonton Drive,mereka sekeluarga juga bingung ama Drive,mereka sekeluarga juga ga suka ama Drive yang terkesan random,gw tulis sendiri biar terdengar keren,masa gw bilang sekeluarga,kan ga lucu.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
I really love this movie altogether, even though I’ve seen plenty of films of its genre before that show brutal violence, flashy gangsters, and vengeful vigilantes. Drive, however, feels like one-of-a-kind, through Nicholas Winding Refn’s visceral and kaleidoscopic story of a nameless character whose motives, dreams, and past are a mystery, but his heart is very clear and his actions are done out of that heart. The fact that he “drives” as a living fits with the scope of Los Angeles because of the public’s reliance on cars, but it’s a dangerous city where cars are the best chance to get away when you know how to handle them. How he’s going to handle the situation he is in that goes beyond a simple drive is the big mystery.
The Driver (Ryan Gosling) drives with discipline, silence, and ease, particularly in the first driving sequence where he picks up two burglars for a getaway and he never bothers once to look at them or sneak a peak at them in his rear-view mirror, only at himself. He’s not interested in who his clients are or what they gain, he only “drives” and doesn’t carry any weapons to help them or talk to them in the car. It’s like he’s programmed to drive without any questions and knows every route to take without panic or stress; he’s unflinching to his surroundings and doesn’t explain why. His employer at the car garage, Shannon (Brian Cranston) is always the talkative, wise-cracking fatherly figure to him, but the Driver rarely talks back to him or answers any questions he asks, such as his first question: “You look like a zombie. Did you get any sleep?” The Driver doesn’t have to tell him anything because he’s ready for any job and whether he’s ever slept in his life is a mystery because we always see him awake and driving at night without any sign of fatigue. He could easily be taken as a zombie like Shannon says; he rarely speaks, expresses, flinches, yells, or shows pain in most situations, that is until he encounters Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her little boy, who always bring a warm smile to his face and break his heart. The scene where he drives them past the California River with the song “Human Being” playing brings an element of dream-like wonder to the precious time he’s able to spend with these people, likely the first people he’s really bonded with when he’s never seen with friends. He’s like the lone ranger out of a western who drifts from one place to another without company and takes care of a situation before he moves on, but finds his heart broken when he falls in love. The moments between Driver and Irene are quietly intimate and play to a beautiful dreamy theme of Cliff Martinez’s, highlighting how different Driver’s life with Irene is from his night-life where the music pounds with electronic rhythm and he’s blanking out his emotions.
However, once her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) comes back from prison, we can tell that Driver’s heart is broken and he can’t smile anymore once he realizes that Irene still cares for Standard since he’s the father of her child. Ironically, Standard is not far from trouble when Driver finds him beaten up in the parking garage and realizes there is trouble afoot that will break Driver’s world for good, all because of his involvement with a woman. This coincides with the business Shannon gets him into with gangsters Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman), who are both equally intimidating and charismatic, although Rose tries to sound gentlemanly with Driver about doing business with him on race cars, but with an underlying threat in his voice when he talks about how Nino once broke Shannon’s pelvis for not paying him money. This sets the stage for the tension, only Driver is fully thrown into it after he agrees to help Standard rob a bank to pay off the gangsters who beat him up, only this job isn’t going to be one he’ll be calling a day on once it’s done. It turns into a more complicated problem that ends up involving Irene, Shannon, Rose, and Nino altogether and leads to brutal encounters that the Driver must live through in order to protect a loved one, which becomes his motivation in getting deep with the wrong people. The way the plot twists and turns, from the simple driving life of Driver to his relationship with Irene to his involvement with Standard to his brush with the gangsters to his brutal fighting methods, keeps you interested in where the story is going and how it will resolve itself.
The Driver is almost unpredictable, as he waits patiently and makes no warning before he’s about to commit an act of violence, such as the scene where he and Irene are in an elevator with a man who has been sent to kill them, and Driver slowly kisses Irene against the wall before he attacks and beats the hit man to death. He can be calm and relaxed one moment then vicious and unhinged at the next; he’s like a superhuman who is alert, disciplined, and invincible, only this superhero has no origins to speak of. It keeps the Driver a very intriguing character all the way through and it’s amazing how Ryan Gosling immersed himself in a character with few words and little to explain, but very capable of taking care of a situation and making criminals wish they didn’t underestimate him. The scenes of him at night as he drives with a blank expression and the overhead shots of Los Angeles bring this eerie and mysterious quality, while in the daytime scenes, it’s always sunny and the background is lit up, bringing a dream-like quality, even in moments of violence. It gives an aura of both the dark and the wondrous to the film, deepening the ambiguity of the Driver and his code, as the film cuts goes back and forth between his moments with Irene, Shannon, and the gangsters to further complicate his relationships with people.
I remain immersed with the whole movie in its cinematography, its music, its tone, and its characters, which are all filled with an otherworldly approach from Refn who knows how to provide a violent crime drama with a central character of unknown origins and a host of characters that could tear his world apart once he starts to get emotionally involved with someone. The music doesn’t swell too loud in the orchestral way to provide tension, only in low rhythmic electronic beats of music to provide tension, and the songs like “Human Being”, “Oh My Love”, and “Nightcall” give a magical feeling, which help make the tone of the film more ambiguous. The cinematography is filled with dark and light that gives the look of a film noir, in scenes of darkness with light in the background and scenes of light in the foreground with shadows behind, making it look all the more mysterious and wondrous. All these cinematic elements add to what a mysterious and intriguing character the Driver is and the story keeps you involved in what direction he’s going to take, which makes this movie a very unique picture that defies the conventions of just another simple crime drama with bloody violence and cops and criminals killing each other. It doesn’t try to look and feel like another crime drama, but to provide a psychological study of a nameless character living in a strict zone without giving too much information and keeping you intrigued as to who he is, what he wants, and how he will get it.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
This movie feels perfect: like an elegant solution to a complex math problem. The fine-tuned performances, precise camera work, and soundtrack all work in total harmony, creating an atmosphere as cool and intriguing as its main character. Drive has little in the way of plot, or even driving, for that matter, and registers mostly as an exercise in creating mood. The dominant air, placidity, is a seemingly peculiar choice because the film is ostensibly about movement. But I think Refn chose this mood to place us in the mind of our calm, collected hero.
Gosling plays, “Kid”, “The Kid”, or “The Driver”, depending on who is addressing him: stunt driver by day, getaway driver by night. Our first glimpse of him is in a spare hotel room where, through a conversation with clients, he sets up the superficial premise of the film: “You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window.” His rules are simple, just like him. He is a man who needs only a few words to express himself. His intentions and desires lie on the surface, as if he has spent his solitary time (and he’s had a lot) in order to become zen-like; he has no need for deception, evasion (except for when it comes to pretty ladies in grocery stores), or maneuvering. Like a man at peace with himself and the rest of the world, he is above such characteristics. Refn paints The Kid quite well with a few actions, some extremely violent, and with a few tears. (Though if you don’t watch closely you might miss them.) As I said, The Kid is a simple guy, but he is also an intense one. His intensity comes not from intimidation, but from a rare clarity of mind. Because of this he never appears conflicted (this is suitable given his chosen professions), which lends the film its very steady center.
Depicting the center’s periphery is a camera traveling as slow and confidently as The Kid, usually preferring push-ins when it does so. The combination of an at-ease protagonist and stable camera occasionally give the impression of floating in space. (I swear the elevator scene seemed like the slowest slow-motion ever created.) The camera’s slow movements appear to represent the unhurried thoughts of The Kid; it slowly approaches a subject the way he does. Of course, the movie isn’t all shot in this fashion and finds the proper counterbalance in its excellent action scenes. There are two car chases and a few fights, but my favorite moment of tension is the elevator scene that displays a hard juxtaposition of stasis and movement. In this scene The Kid realizes there is a hit out on him and that he may not see his girl again. During a nice touch of impressionism, he calmly pushes her to the side and lays a kiss on her that lasts for an eternity. He then proceeds to stomp the mobsters head off with the most energy and ferociousness displayed in the film. For me, this scene always feels like a transformative moment for our hero, as if he just discovered some kind of truth about himself. It is in this one-sided cage match that he finds his drive: protect the girl.
The final layer on the film’s placid surface is a score by Cliff Martinez. It features a lot of droning synths adding to the still life nature of the film. Like the film’s other key elements, the score is a calming presence that makes the tense moments all the more gripping once they arrive. It is never overwhelming, sometimes barely noticeable, but still helps guide our thoughts and mood. Whereas the score barely registers, the soundtrack is comprised of the sweetest pop songs sure to stick on the inside of your brain. In addition, these tunes function in the exact opposite way of the score due to the lyrics that are sometimes closely related to the images on screen. I think of the soundtrack and the film’s hot-pink title and credits as complimentary. I can’t explain why, but both just work. Maybe it’s because both elements are a bit unusual, like our hero.
So, when our eyes and ears register stillness for most of the film, it really gives the action scenes a lot of pop (Like when that guy’s head pops off in the elevator, or when Blanche’s head is popped off with a shotgun.) When I recall the film in my mind those scenes take up a disproportionate amount of space because they are so striking. So when you really want your film to move an audience, sometimes the best thing you can do is slow way down.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Directed by Nicolas Refn, and staring Ryan Gosling, Drive is an archetypal ‘good-bad’ film; everything that is good about it is perfectly weighted against just as many things that are bad. Let’s start off with the good: as a generic-on-paper heist film, for what it is, the plot of Drive is surprisingly engaging. We’ve seen films about bungled robberies before (was there ever a heist movie where everything went according to plan?), but what sets this film apart from the rest is the way the narrative is fed to you. There is the anticipation before the bit hit, there is the consequence after, but rarely anything in between: we do not get to see the moment where the gun is fired; nor do we see the cashier pleading for his life. Refn has commendably created a picture in which actions in themselves are shown to be fleeting and immaterial, and for good reason: it’s our plans that take up most of our time, and the consequences we must live with after.
For a film which takes such care unfolding its scenes, it’s perhaps surprising that so little care has been taken with plot-line itself. This is where it starts to get ‘bad’. We might accept that a get away driver also works as a stunt man (just), but to ask us to believe that a stunt-driving, ram-raiding, Rodney Trotter lookalike also works part-time as car mechanic for, apparently, below minimum wage is beginning to stretch it. There is also a number of question marks hanging over the past-histories of supporting cast: Carey Mulligan’s well-bred character looks like the last person on earth to date a Hispanic gang-banger, and the gang-banger himself looks like the first person who’d hit Gosling on finding him at his home ‘entertaining’ his wife. Non the less, in the world of Drive, smart women who are improbably stupid and bad boys who are implausibly sweet are par for the course.
For every down in Refn’s film however, there is a up: while there are enough plot anomalies in Drive to fill a multi-story carpark, the acting somehow makes it, if not forgiveable, at least forgettable. As the multi-tasking wheel-man, Gosling gives a performance which is far less Paul Newman or Vin Diesel and much more Rainman or Travis Bickle. The man with his foot on the pedal is unnervingly attuned to his vehicle of gears and axils, but that’s because he’s virtually a machine himself. In the lighter moments there’s also the aura of Knight Rider suffusing Gosling’s auto-mensch performance, but only in a world where Michael Knight wears panties and keeps a box of earlobes in his glove compartment. Aside from the brilliant female lead, the other stand out role is Albert Brooks as the Driver’s wheeling-dealing boss; putting in a concerted effort to convey corruption and naivety at once; he almost steals the show.
Now onto the horrible bits. Where the pacing and acting in Drive appear to serve a higher purpose (to transcend the usual heist-bungler cliches), the temptations of the editing suite ultimately over-ignites the project into a stall. Electro-pop songs and artificial colour casts might sit happily alongside a edgy sci-fi outing, but here the effect is all wrong: the central character may behave a machine, this is not what he aspires to be – as a love interest and surrogate father our driver is desperately striving to be human, his mannerisms are robotic, but his destination is in fact organic. If the purpose of any film-score is to reflect the drive of the main character, there is then no point romanticising Driver’s affinity for machines through Numan-esque synth washes. Strings and woodwind would be far closer to the mark.
With so much in Drive that is both equally good and equally bad, it is perhaps tempting to say that say that, overall, Refn’s picture averages out as “mediocre”. But like a pair of scales perfectly weighted in either direction, the effect here is so balanced that it is difficult to find the will to shrug or even let out a sigh. Assuming it ever makes it to the production stage, it may fall on Drive’s sequel to upset the balance and producing something more compelling.
Cinématographiquement parlant, l’année 2011 fut l’une des plus pauvres depuis longtemps. Il aura fallu attendre le mois de septembre (en Belgique) pour voir enfin un film qui méritait le déplacement. Et c’est le génial cinéaste danois Nicolas Winding Refn qui nous l’offre, avec son premier film de commande, sobrement intitulé Drive.
Ce n’est pas parce que c’est un film de commande qu’il ne faut pas y voir la patte de Refn. Que ce soit au niveau du scénario que de la mise en scène, on retrouve tout ce qui a fait le succès d’un cinéaste avec Pusher et Bronson et le plus controversé Valhalla Rising. J’insiste toutefois pour signaler que ce dernier est, avec Drive, un chef-d’oeuvre.
Dans Drive, on suit un type assez silencieux. Il n’a pas de nom. Juste parfois un surnom, “Kid”, donné par son patron. L’homme est un conducteur à temps partiel sur des plateaux de tournage, où il joue des cascades. Il bosse dans un garage l’autre partie de son temps. Le soir, il aide des types qui font des casses à s’en tirer. Comme dans Valhalla Rising, le personnage est très silencieux et une relation étroite va lier le héros à un enfant.
Ce type est un personnage sans passé et ni avenir. Il vit l’instant présent. C’est un gars à la recherche d’une famille et d’une volonté de se poser. La relation qu’il va entretenir avec Irene et Benicio n’en sont que la preuve. L’amour, la volonté d’éduquer un enfant et de jouer le rôle de père l’attirent. Mais le côté sombre du personnage et de sa vie ne sont pas loin. Les thèmes de Refn sont bien présents, comme dans Valhalla Rising. Ils sont les mêmes, mais racontés de manière différente. Le conducteur est un homme de passage, mettant de côté ses envies, son futur et sa vie pour que Irene et son enfant puissent vivre en paix. Il y a un don de soi et une générosité remarquable dans le personnage joué par Ryan Gosling.
Refn est également un cinéaste fasciné par la violence. Ses films contiennent souvent des passages crus et Bronson était même une oeuvre considérée comme “Kubrickienne”, car évoquant la violence dans la société. Une nouvelle fois présente dans Drive, elle demeure cependant très furtive et ne dégoûte jamais. Tout est en distanciation (sans atteindre toutefois le génie de Kubrick et de Orange mécanique). Mais le but de Refn n’est pas là. Depuis deux films, on sent des personnages et des thèmes évoquant une envie de dépasser sa propre condition humaine pour quelque chose qui en vaille la peine, pour que quelqu’un puisse avoir un avenir. Mais l’environnement est violent et le danger partout. Pour le “Driver”, il semble être un personnage à la fois présent et absent. Présent par son physique, ses gestes et le fait qu’il connaisse la ville comme sa poche. Absent car silencieux et parfois donnant l’impression d’être ailleurs, de ne pas faire partie du même monde que les autres hommes. La relation qu’il entretient avec Benicio, l’enfant d’Irene, est pour cela très intéressante, car le chauffeur semble devenir quelqu’un de totalement pacifique, avec un sourire réconfortant. Les moments que le “Driver” passe avec la famille sonnent comme un petit coin de paradis, le sommet étant atteint lorsqu’ils s’isolent au bord d’une rivière, sur un couchant de soleil et donnant vraiment l’impression d’une sérénité remarquable pour ces trois personnages. Ad contrario, lorsque le mari revient après sa sortie de prison, c’est donc tout qui s’effondre d’une certaine manière. Mais le chauffeur va dépasser cela et estimant que seul compte le bonheur de la petite famille, il va simplement continuer à vivre.
Bref, l’oeuvre est très intéressante sur le fond et mérite sans aucun doute qu’on s’y attarde plusieurs fois. D’autant que l’histoire est remarquablement bien construite et que le casse, les raisons de la trahison s’emboitent parfaitement et de manière logique.
Le film a reçu à Cannes le prix de la mise en scène. Une récompense totalement justifiée tant le cinéaste maitrise parfaitement son bébé. Une oeuvre alternant plans-séquence, scènes au ralentis ou au contraire montage clipesque. De plus les séquences de voiture sont tout simplement remarquables et tendues. La photographie est tout simplement superbe.
Côté casting, on notera que le cinéaste a pu compter sur la fameuse gueule de Ron Perlman, excellent, et sur des acteurs talentueux comme Bryan Cranston, Oscaar Isaac et Carey Mulligan. Mais c’est évidemment Ryan Gosling qui fait figure de véritable révélation, 2011 étant son année cinéma. L’homme est charismatique à souhait et son visage offrant toujours les mêmes expressions colle parfaitement au personnage.
Drive est un film de bagnole. En sortant de là, on a qu’une envie: prendre sa caisse, se mettre silencieusement au volant et rouler au hasard des rues en écoutant du Kavinski.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011) is a difficult work to provide an analysis for seeing as how it not only blends within several genres, but also in how its overall framework lends itself to miniscule details which may shift interpretation and evaluation from person to person depending on the perspective of the audience member. Some may see this film as overly violent and exaggeratedly obtuse in its interpretation of crime. However, others might find Refn’s film to be artistically thriving with a soothing pace lending itself to an atmospheric work filled with oneiric undertones. An argument should be made for the latter interpretation in demonstrating how the use of lighting and color along with characterization and sound are supplemented in achieving a similar affect. Implementing strategies of interpretation, description and evaluation, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive shall be proven in being a work of artistic merit with overlying qualities in surrealism.
Drive undeniably features qualities which might categorize the work within oneiric cinema most likely because of its attention to both the lighting and the color Refn has given to each scene. The film introduces its audience to an almost dream-like reality in where stylization dominates over content. Whole scenes are given meaning merely through aesthetics as an emphasis is put within this type of symbol usage. For example, a scene which should be more closely investigated is the one in which the Driver kisses Irene as he is within seconds of impending doom from the hired hitman inside of the elevator. Starting the scene with normal settings, both the pacing and the lighting shift gears as Ryan Gosling’s character realizes the danger they are both in. The tone switches from average elevator lighting to a dark-lit environment which spotlights the lovers specifically, isolating them almost completely from the rest of the reality. This is stressed to an even higher degree with the slow-motion in affect as the two lovers’ kiss is played out as romantically and heavenly as possible. However, as the kiss ends slowly but surely, the dream-like settings end as well. The lighting returns back to reality and the action of the Driver killing the hitman actually speeds up, providing almost the same effect with an opposite technique. Both of these parts from the same scene achieve an oneiric quality through two different techniques. Interestingly enough, this is one of the few scenes in which Gosling’s character breaks out of his emotionless and expressionless persona in showing his true passion through protecting Irene. This protagonist does not merely help in serve the story’s motives, but also helps in aiding the oneiric eminence of the work.
The Driver is as mysterious a character as any in cinema. The audience knows absolutely nothing about his life, his motives nor who he is as a person apart from his job and crime-driven life. Though this may be viewed as a flaw in achieving emotional connection to the audience, this may also be viewed in arousing intrigue into this character’s life. The fact that he restraints himself from showing absolutely no emotion or expression within his facial reactions is testament to his segregation from society. He is an outsider, an alien. Most of the characters within the film take notice of this alienation as they try to puzzle together his motives and his history, not knowing that maybe the Driver, himself, is unaware of it as well. For example, all the scenes in which the Driver introduces himself to people such as Bernie, Standard or even Irene, he never utters more than a word or two at a time as the blank and empty quality of his face should not be mistaken for shyness. He is not a shy man. Rather, his love for Irene proves the fact that the care he gives for others will only blind his rationale and create an utter monster willing to kill at any turn if it means protecting his loved ones. He shuts the rest of society out from knowing his true intentions or who he really is because letting people in means more danger he has to put himself through for that specific person. An important quality to the protagonist is the fact that he parallels the stylization of the films. Just as the film plays out in having a slow-tempo, the calmness it exemplifies juxtaposes these techniques with violently blunt scenes filled with action and gory content proving in demonstrating how the Driver also constitutes this basic structure. Though for the most part, his character is composed of quiet mannerisms with subtle smiles and glances, he is inherently a killer at heart ready to destroy for the sake of love. Both the protagonist and the film’s style complement each other in a way which achieves oneiric qualities in a cohesive system. With that being said, it is equally important to note how sound plays into realizing this dream-like effect within the context of the story and of the character.
Though diegetic sound does play a role in Drive, a larger case must be made for the dominance non-diegetic sound carries throughout the film in furthering the plausibility of such a dream-like reality. Because music interacts enormously with the arc of certain scenes, it is almost impossible to describe that element without correlating it directly with other elements simultaneously. Thus, both color and sound make their most vital contributions within the last few scenes of the film. Though color associates directly with lighting, its essence is undoubtedly made present in the killing scene between Bernie and the Driver as the only evidence of the final few blows lies within the shadow’s portrayal of the action. The overexposed nature of the scene’s lighting makes the harsh shadows even more highlighted as it shows the gentle killer settling down his prey ever so softly on the cement ground. This leads the remainder of the scene into a question of whether or not the Driver’s motionless corpse is a result of death or a product of his meditative persona. Witnessing the Driver’s static face in a tight close-up, the Sun’s rays come in heavily over-exposed as it gives the sense of an almost heaven-like atmosphere. Slowly, music begins to creep in. As it begins to escalate ever so loudly, the Driver’s eyes suddenly blink just as the beat reaches its climactic point. These two elements of sound and color worked coherently with each other in exhibiting a scene which imitates a heaven-like landscape in how it approaches not only the lighting, but also the spatial distance between non-diegetic sound and diegetic sound as the latter starts to take prominence after his liveliness is proven. Other scenes factor in quite prominently as well when considering the concepts of sound and color. For instance, when the Driver takes Irene and Benicio home from visiting the pond behind the highway, an example can be made of the link between the color and the sound. As the lighting and the color lend themselves directly to realism, both the slow motion and dominant non-diegetic music contrasts with the natural setting to give the sense of a surrealistic experience as the Driver, an inherently violent creature, caresses the innocent young child upon his back. With all these contrasts between styles and content there has to be a definitive list of genres in which this film falls subject to categorization. This must be done in means of justifying the criteria discussed above in amply proving whether or not the oneiric qualities displayed by the work justifiably qualify it as a good film.
In Noel Carroll’s article ‘Introducing Film Evaluation’, he primarily makes reference to the fact that a film should be categorized based on if it falls subject to a genre which has a substantial amount of films with similar style/qualities such as comedies, horror, westerns, suspense or even dramas (Noel Carroll, ‘Introducing Film Evaluation’, 159). His other significant point in evaluation is whether or not the film in question is a result of a “historical and/or cultural context from which the film emerged… [supplying] rational grounds for film categorization” ( Carroll, 160). Drive’s categorization may be deduced by a combination of both methods, while also diverging from both techniques.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s film is clearly an homage to Hollywood cinema in how it portrays Los Angeles as the perfect crime city filled with both make-believe enchantments of the entertainment industry and the violent warfare made known to audiences in so many Hollywood classics of the noir genre. Thus, a case may be made for Drive as influenced by and subsequently categorized as a noir, romance, drama and action film. Yet, falling within these genres does not make it an undeniable result of these categories, but also a result of the history and context of modern day Hollywood. With the amount of pop-culture music implemented into this film, it is no doubt that Refn was trying to reach out to today’s youth as a target audience through more ways than one. By casting Ryan Gosling, arguably one of the most popular young actors of today’s generation, it is clear who the film was aimed in appealing to. However, these facts do not weaken the film. They merely help in evaluating the work.
In conclusion, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive ends up exploring a variety of different genres, making it exceedingly difficult to label this as a product of one specific section. However, when speaking in terms of contextual history it is much simpler to understand why it was such a commercial success within pop-culture. Drive leaves absolutely no audience type unsatisfied as it uses its surrealistic element to travel through each genre as swiftly as the story allows it to be done. The Driver’s romantic love affair with Irene and his care for her young child sets the film as a romance and a drama as the love he experiences for the two, both Platonic and Eros, allows him to unleash his true beast though he attempts so hard to hide it in everyday life. On the other hand, the lifestyle he has chosen for himself prior to Irene inevitably falls under influences of noir and actions films as the mafia he crosses paths with leads to violence of the most cinematic type while invoking elements of suspense within each beat. Since Refn’s film falls almost seamlessly within each one of these categories, evaluation of the work would have it be a good film due to the level of similarity Drive achieves in being compared to each genre’s standards. Be that as it may, one must also evaluate this film within the context of its conception, understanding that its commercial appeal does not hinder its artistic merit, but rather adds to the oneiric cinema of which the film originates from. Nicolas Winding Refn achieves this level of production by creating a work which diversifies its uniqueness by isolating itself from purely artistic works and purely commercial works, becoming a hybrid of both superpowers.
Carroll, Noel. “Introducing Film Evaluation.” Engaging the Moving Image. 2003: New Haven: Yale University Press, n.d. 147-164.
Drive. By Hossein Amini. Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn. Perf. Ryan Gosling. Prod. Marc Platt. FilmDistrict, 2011.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
“Drive” by Nicolas Winding Refn is absolutely brilliant. True B-film expression in the classical mode. This film was well-deserving of the Director’s Prize at Cannes. It has a concise and effortless feel, the choice of music seems to hit exactly the right note, it is well-acted with a panorama of great faces and personalities, and the story is entertaining from start to finish.
To be fair the scenario is also full of cliches from start to finish. But in “Drive” it is all about the execution, just like Ryan Gosling’s title character who must survive based on his method, his execution of a craft that he is able to elevate into an art form. Therefore this film is a great metaphor of the directing process and the joys inherent in good genre cinema. It also proves the theorem that in order to transcend genre you must stick to its rules.
Gosling outdrives his pursuers with cunning and sheer talent. Rarely does he outperform them with raw speed. Rarely does he bowl them over with brute force . Rarely does he outmaneuver them with flashy tricks. One can say the same of Refn and his film. It is unassuming and efficient, like the first getaway car the driver uses, full of potential under the hood and more than meets the eye in sum total.
As an example of Los Angeles neo-noir the film does not feel of its apparent time. It should be from a lost era but is also a relic that takes place in that effervescent alternative LA that exists in our collective cinematic imaginations. This is why the driver works as a stunt car driver, because this is the setting he belongs in — the movies. As the closing song implies he exists as a hero, a real stand-up guy. Not because he leaves behind a million dollars that do not belong to him (and that he knows will only bring him more trouble), not because he risks everything to protect a mother and son, also the prison convict father who he barely knows, not because he only hurts those who deserve to be hurt. Because the driver drives, we watch, and no more need be said.
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
This high-acclaimed black noir of our era has accumulated "best-of-the-year” momentum ever since it garnered a Best Director honor for the Denmark prodigy Nicolas Winding Refn (from PUSH trilogy and DRIVE is his Hollywood premier) in Cannes last year.
The film exudes a drastically visual flare almost in every scene, from its one-of-a-kind camera angle, an utterly mind-blowing hue (a mesmerizing contrast between warm orange and ruthless shadow dark). The whole script is as corny as any hacks could write with eyes shut, a point-of-no-return road for a lone hero to save his beloved woman from danger. So plot wise, the film could be a thorough disaster, and here comes our virtuoso director to rescue the film and without embellishing the content, fully showcasing his theatrical aesthetics to fend off the fatigue of the tedious characterization (a taciturn Ryan Gosling can only be beneficial to his staunchest followers, while a dainty Carey Mulligan has too little to display her faculty), among the cast, if one doesn’t harbor a over-hyped expectation, Albert Brooks will be a fierily menacing discovery particularly it is creepily against his usual comedic strain.
Subtlety rules, several remarkable shots and tableaux (to wit: the hammer menace in the strip-club’s dressing room, the man with a creepy musk in front of the pizzeria before the slaughter with its consequent beach hunt at night and so on) are jaw-droppingly staggering and the violence showcase is harrowingly stylistic, the elevator scene could be on a par with the Gaspar Noé’s groundbreakingly grisly IRREVERSIBLE (2002). The film is going to be a classic cult not the least because of all the Oscar snubs it receives, which is confoundingly a congenial sign of its bright future both for the film itself and Mr. Refn’s professional career (the latter is even more uncanny regarding the recent vicious curse upon non-American new directors’ debut in Hollywood, Refn and Cary Fukunaga from JANE EYRE 2011 are the only jinx-breakers so far).
Ps. the hypnotic soundtrack is the ace, the ending-song COLLEGE’S A REAL HERO is the killing for me.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Alors que le film commence assez bien, impose une hypnose urbaine, visuelle et sonore prometteuse, il verse rapidement dans le mélo. L’hypnose se transforme en plans au ralenti. La dérive urbaine se perd dans le mélo qui lui fait perdre toute intensité. Dans la dernière partie, les scènes de violence (qui rappellent le cinéma asiatique ou Tarrentino) ne relèvent pas l’ensemble. Malgré la prestation de Ryan Gosling, on se demande où nous conduit Drive, à part vers un film qu’on a déjà vu 1000 fois. Décevant.
- Currently 1.0/5 Stars.
The film is very visual, but very standard. The main protagonist is an exceptional creation. Gosling plays him with the perfect amount of subtlety and reserve. Style is a key element of this film. The lighting, camerawork, and stunts are executed masterfully. The soundtrack is…interesting. What is missing? Namely, a unique narrative. The excruciatingly predictable story arc takes away from this film. Of course the job will go wrong. Of course it all leads back to Bernie. There are some other things I could mention, but then I’d really spoil the movie. Other aspects of the film are less than perfect. The initial bloodshed in this film hits you like a slap in the face, but the resolution is unsurprising and mild. Dialogue in this film is notably simplistic. Sometimes this works well, sometimes it doesn’t. Lastly, everyone seems to be talking about the performance of Albert Brooks. He has certainly come a long way since Taxi Driver, but I should hardly think this role is Oscar worthy. Yes, some people have suggested a nomination, and the Golden Globes have already recognized him. Still, is his performance really that outstanding, or are we just used to seeing him in lighter roles? I really don’t know, though I lean towards the latter notion. A good movie, but not one I feel a compelling desire to watch again soon.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
“I’m a driver”.
And with those three words, director Nicolas Winding Refn reveals his intentions for Drive, a taut actioner and disarming character study that filters Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï through the slick lens of Michael Mann. Ryan Gosling’s hero, known only as “Driver”, is a page Refn tears right out of the Sergio Leone “man with no name” playbook. He is a man of action—he has no extraneous backstory, he doesn’t do any grand-standing, and his speech is direct and deliberate. Whether driving a getaway vehicle, working as a grease monkey, performing stunts for B-movie action flicks, or aspiring to race professionally in the stock car circuit, Driver is his profession.
Like Le Samouraï, The American, or even Hanna before it, the bulk of Drive’s conflict is gleaned from the nameless protagonist becoming too attached to otherwise incidental characters until their safety’s threatened and the job is made personal. Where Drive succeeds is in how Refn overcomes the formulaic nature of such a narrative which is to say through every other aspect of this film.
The onscreen talent in Drive is astounding. Driver and Irene (the enchanting Carey Mulligan) share a chaste, fairytale love story, but rather than prattling on, they barely utter a word, instead conveying volumes through their innocent, aching gazes. Everyone else overcompensates with their loquaciousness, a cast of dangerously inept gangsters and wannabe players each scrambling desparately to avoid the fatal consequences to their involvement in Drive’s central plot. Bryan Cranston’s hapless but well-intentioned big-mouth, Shannon, continues to dig Driver, Irene, and himself into a continually deeper hole with the ruthless Nino (Ron Perlman) and his increasingly vexed partner Bernie Rose, superbly played against type by Albert Brooks in a performance analogous to Henry Fonda’s villainous turn in Once Upon A Time In The West. One of the many great joys of Drive is there is no transformation for these characters; Refn simply throws them together and let’s the audience watch the violent drama transpire.
What ensues is riveting, a series of concise but powerful moments aided in no small part by Refn’s arthouse flair. The opening getaway sequence, consisting of fly-over shots of a midnight Los Angeles and tight interiors of Driver chewing on a toothpick and clenching his leather-clad hand as he cautiously eludes the authorities, is not only the most intense sequence of the year but consists of the most original vehicular stunt work since Bullitt. Throughout, Refn’s sparse dialogue, slow-burn approach serves Drive better than similar recent genre films such as Hanna or The American. Where Joe Wright and Anton Corbijn’s respective works missed the mark was not in the build up of tension but in the release, a technique Refn masters in Drive to palm-sweating perfection. And, rather than pulling any punches by “artistically” cutting away to maintain a PG-13, Drive is gratuitously brutal when the violence peaks, evidenced further by Driver’s increasingly bloodied scorpion-emblazoned racing jacket.
Drive is a simple tale told exceptionally well. Though imperfect (it’s hard not to be a tad disappointed after such a tense opening) and certain to be dismissed by some as unendurable and indecipherable, Drive is a patient, excating work beautifully composed and masterfully crafted with all the impact of classic cinema. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is only going to grow in esteem and is sure to age like a fine wine.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
I walked in skeptical and I walked out amazed. Drive is worth the insane amount of praise it’s getting from critics and audiences alike. It’s a surface level thriller, along the same lines as Le Samurai and The Man With No Name Trilogy, with a 70’s cop movie style. In fact, that is what this film thrives on its style. If I were to pick one aspect of the film that is going to resonate with me for the future, it’s obviously going to be Refn’s stunning direction. The camera becomes a character with a grace and expression that few films possess. It’s the reason that Refn rightfully won best director at Canne, and it’s the reason you cannot take your eyes off the screen. It has hints of neo-noir, moving in and out of scenes with elegant smooth gestures. Without it, I would argue that this film would have been a flop.
There are other aspects of the film I enjoyed, such as the intriguing characters and pulse pounding action sequences, but they all lead back to the brilliant directing. The only part I felt didn’t live up to the rest of the film was the shaky acting by Gosling. There were some great performances in this film other than his, and he was multiple times outshines by almost everyone else onscreen. This shouldn’t be the case with our main protagonist. He was constantly attempting to embody those great old silent heroes of classic films, and because of that he never became his own character. He was a caricature of these strong silent types who never convinced me of being larger than life, and never sold me on the fact that he cares for Irene or her son. In my opinion, he tried too hard to become that person, and he never sold me on it. As a side note though, Carey Mulligan is rapidly becoming on of my favorite actresses and one of the most drop-dead gorgeous women working in hollywood today.
It is an awe-inspiring film, and deserves to be seen on the big screen.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
This film is such a breath of fresh air, albeit derivative 70’s, Scorsese throw-back fresh air. Especially since we live in a society where people like Michael Bay are making the most money. I’m normally quite good at putting my feelings about a film into words but this film is powerful enough without me feebly trying to do it justice. Just go and see it, see it with an open mind. More of this, less of Michael Bay
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
It isn’t often that I’m lured by the siren call of the modern Hollywood film industry. I’m quite happy to stay within the confines of the cinematic bubble I’ve created for myself (for those unfamiliar with my viewing habits, they largely consist of classic and/or foreign films), and I’ve found that leaving it leads, more often than not, to disappointment. The positive buzz surrounding Drive caught my eye, and this time I’m happy to report the foray from my usual fare was… well, not great, but pretty OK.
Ryan Gosling (who seems to be everywhere these days, doesn’t he?) plays a laconic Los Angeles based stunt driver and mechanic who occasionally moonlights as a getaway driver. Following a brief, almost-but-not-quite romantic interlude with his neighbor Irene (played by Carey Mulligan), Gosling’s character (who is never named) becomes involved in a pawn shop heist in a bid to save the lives of both Irene and her young son. The heist, of course, goes terribly wrong, and the unnamed driver’s life begins to spin dangerously out of control. The plot is nothing to write home about, and if this were your typical action flick, the filmmaking wouldn’t be worth mentioning either. Thankfully, Drive is in the hands of an extremely capable director whose use of deliberate pacing and a gritty, highly stylized look give the film a captivating, otherworldly quality. Though set in the present, Drive has a distinct retro 80’s vibe not unlike that of a Brian De Palma film, lending it a timelessness and making it difficult to pin down exactly when or where the action takes place- maybe it was last week, or maybe it was 30 years ago. The synth pop soundtrack and geographically re-imagined version of Los Angeles also enhance the “alternate reality” feeling to great effect- it’s quite easy to get lost in the world Refn creates.
Well made as it may be, Drive is not without it’s problems. Though it has a great cast, some of the talent is sorely underutilized. The few non-background female actors the film has (including Mulligan and the wonderful Christina Hendricks, who has an all too brief turn as a co-conspirator in the heist) are particularly misused- despite giving the roles their all, their characters are little more than mere plot devices. The bad guys lack depth, and come off as flat, one-note caricatures. Though the aforementioned synth pop soundtrack largely works to the film’s advantage, the song used in the final scene (“A Real Hero”) is laughably saccharine and unforgivably cheesy. Perhaps the most egregious error Refn makes is with his over-the-top, almost cartoonish depictions of violence- these sequences clash horrendously with the contemplative, understated feel that permeates throughout the rest of the film. Drive is far from perfect, and it’s certainly not worthy of the inflated 8.4 rating it currently enjoys on IMDB, but it is surprisingly enjoyable. If more Hollywood action movies were like this one, I’d probably be more interested in watching them.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
On first impression, and for good reason, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011) reminded me of Melville’s Le Samourai (1967), with Ryan Gosling, the driver, sporting a similar role to Jef Costello, Alain Delon’s infamously cool and mysterious lead character. In fact, before even seeing the film, the trailers and info had me thinking about Le Samourai — a minimalist and artistic crime/action/thriller film with a mysterious, quiet, lead character who is an expert of his craft? C’mon, that could easily describe either film.
However, while there are some similarities, and Refn has clearly taken note of certain Melvillian tendencies, the films are two very different beasts, and the lead character’s similarities are merely superficial; though they act similarly, with meticulous detail, obsessive compulsions, and a kind of meditative silence, the inherent nature and psychological background of each of them is exceedingly disparate, and this comes quite clear in the second half of Drive, when the film takes a sharp turn.
Drive opens up with a brilliantly choreographed getaway — nothing else in the film quite matches the greatness of this scene. In almost perfect silence — only the sounds of car engines, police sirens, police CB radio announcements, and radio of a basketball game — the driver, toothpick in his mouth as always, evades the police with his precise driving, clever decisions, attention to detail, and meticulous demeanor. In this brief scene, we learn much about the driver’s role; his five-minute window and borderline obsessive-compulsive attention to detail illustrate the figure of a true professional.
While the music is an 80s throwback, it perfectly suits the mood of the film. In fact, I think it’s one of its greatest forces, supporting the action on screen and translating certain moods to the audience. In conjunction with the minimalist nature of the film, and the consistently somber colour palate of pastel greens and blues — highly similar to the colour palate of Le Samourai — the music sets a unique tone for the film; to be sure, you’ve probably never seen a film quite like Drive, and I think a major reason for that is Refn’s choice of music, which, though working with the visual images, hasn’t really been done before.
Part of why it works so well, though, is because, during the slower paced, especially minimalist scenes, such as when Driver and Irene stare at each other in silence — pick any one of the several scenes — or when Driver slowly bows his head near the end, before driving off, there is no music at all. This is a good choice on Refn’s part, since the art of minimalism would certainly be compromised if high tempo 80s rock music were playing in the background. On the other hand, this kind of music exceptionally suits the driving scenes.
While many parts of the film have minimalist tendencies — few images on screen, slower camera movements, decreased sense of timing and pace, accentuation of what is on screen — the pace of the film is not constant. There is a point in the film where the pace changes entirely, while the rhythm of the film — its sense of being within time — remains the same; this point is exactly when Standard is shot — the loud bang of the gun marks it. Though the film’s movement of time remains the same, and it doesn’t feel too jarring, the film becomes renewed entirely at that point. Suddenly, the minimalist love/character drama transforms into a high octane action film, replete with gruesome murder, and intense action. This sense of intensity, particularly from Gosling’s character, is seen fleetingly so far in the film — the bar scene — but it becomes the driving force of the second half.
It is during this second half that Drive separates itself completely from Le Samourai, and instead joins the league of violent psychological action films such as Taxi Driver (1976). Not only does the tempo of the film increase, so does the brevity of Driver’s situation; this trying situation is not hard to believe when considering what the Driver does, but, to the viewer, it comes as if out of nowhere, disrupting and disturbing the nature of the film. At first this threw me off, and had me rethinking the film as a whole; why the sudden shift? Why the intensity of the driver? Then I realized, this shift isn’t done in vain, it’s an artistic means of expressing a profound truth about its lead character, Drivcr, of whom the film is all about.
When Standard is shot, not only does the film’s pace become disturbed, so does Driver himself. As we know, he is distant, attentive, and acts with a sense of meditative, or perhaps medicated, silence. However, since a difficult circumstance has surfaced, the driver’s sense of detached contemplation is put to bed; he immediately becomes an intense, violently driven, psychopath, killing multiple people in cold blood without a blink of the eye. This is nothing like Le Samourai’s Jef Costello. While Jef’s sense of contemplation exudes a nature of peace and harmony, the driver’s actions in the second half of the film make it abundantly clear that his sense of contemplation is done to suppress his violent nature. It becomes quite obvious that his lack of willingness to get involved with people, his obsessive compulsions — the toothpick for example — his exact directions (to clients), and his generally calm, meditative demeanor is his way of compensating for a tapestry of intense and violent emotions.
The change of pace in the film is done to illustrate in a literal, expressive way, the change in Driver’s nature. In other words, when the film is minimalist, Driver is relaxed, and when the film is intense, Driver is violent. This is a brilliant measure that Refn has made. By doing this, he gives the viewer an unconscious appreciation of Driver. The viewer understands the character more profoundly, because they may associate him with his actions as well as with the nature of the film itself. The changes in pace throughout the film are, effectively, subtle cue’s into the nature of Driver, the character the film is illustrating.
This correlation between character and film pace is clarified in the ending. After Driver gives up the money and begins to drive away, he realizes that it’s all over. In what is perhaps the most minimalist scene of the film, he looks down at his stab wound, then he bows his head, as if he has found peace. It is during this moment that he has regained his composure (only psychologically of course, he is still wounded). His calm, meditative silence returns for one final scene, which similarly regains the original, contemplative pace of the film. In other words, the tonal change in the film speaks about a change — or should I say change back — of the main character, bringing the film full circle. The driver, again, is left isolated, driving alone into the silence.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
The hero in “Drive” is simply called Driver. When we first see him, he is the getaway driver for a two-man robbery. On the phone, he concisely explains to his employers how he works:“If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what.”
This sets the tone of “Drive,” the new film by Nicolas Winding Refn about a part-time stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who intervenes in a heist-gone-wrong, and gets involved with some seriously vile gangsters.
Driver is a man of precision. He walks around in a striking white satin jacket with a golden scorpion on the back, and a toothpick in his mouth. He listens more than he talks, he drives as well as he listens and he is damn good at what he does.
Driver’s steady precision is met with an equally immovable villain, a Jewish gangster named Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks— that’s right, you heard me). Driver’s boss and mentor, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), whose limp reveals his past dealings with dangerous men like Rose, introduces Driver to Rose in the form of a business investment. Driver’s day job is stunt driving for action movies, and Shannon convinces Rose to invest in buying a racecar, which Driver will race.
A parallel story involves Driver’s relationship with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). We come to learn that Irene’s husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), has been in prison and is getting out with unpaid debts.
There is also Rose’s partner Ninno (Ron Perlman) who plays an important part in the two parallel stories of “Drive” slamming together. In his scenes with Irene and Benicio, we actually see a warmer side to Driver, who is otherwise never given a reason to feel comforted by those around him. The comfort they give him is more than enough to fuel his path of vengeance that follows.
Gosling is a superb actor who can pretty much do anything, as far as I can tell. This summer, he made me laugh in “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” and before that he managed to break my heart in “Blue Valentine” and scare the hell out of me in Andrew Jarecki’s “All Good Things.” Refn is in love with Gosling’s long, intense stares, which arrive frequently throughout “Drive.”
Either that, or Gosling loves his own stares a bit too much. Whatever the case, it is an interesting and compelling performance.
Driver is the kind of understated character that must be surrounded by more showy, extrovert supporting characters than himself. Brooks is cast so far against what we expect. Bernie Rose is a brutal man who knows just how brutal he is, and the way Brooks brings his well known image to the character makes it all the more disturbing when he brings on the depravity.
Mulligan is also very good here, as is Cranston as Driver’s physically and emotionally crippled mentor and boss. His appearance is peaked and frail, but he knows cars, which makes him the perfect father figure to Driver, who is like a son to him. It is another remarkable performance, and one of the “Breaking Bad” actor’s best.
Like his 2008 film “Bronson,” Danish director Refn’s “Drive” is an exercise in style. Where “Bronson” was a biographical movie about one of the most dangerous criminals in the UK, “Drive” is a crime thriller about a man with no name and no qualms with striking fear into the hearts of his enemies. He also doesn’t mind beating them to a pulp.
But let’s get real here. “Drive” is as much a crime thriller as “Bronson” is a biopic. What sounds like a throwaway story may very well be exactly that, but Refn has taken that oh-so-familiar tale, stripped it down, bleached it in existentialism and tattooed his personal stamp on it.
There is nothing typical or throwaway about “Drive.” As it simultaneously manages to embrace and scorn the movies it resembles, the film reveals itself to be something of a rarity. While it contains many of the elements of more familiar crime movies, it is not so interested in exploring the same things.
There are car chases, for instance, brilliantly executed and shot. But they are brief, and as concise as the hero’s opening words. There are also shootouts as violent as any I have seen, but they are brief and sudden, which makes them all the more effective.
Particularly in recent crime movies, scenes like this tend to go on and on. Long, drawn out car chases and shootouts can become dull, but in “Drive” they are invigorating and tense. This film is more interested in the quieter scenes leading up to and following the action, and here, they are just that: quiet.
Refn is a deliberate filmmaker who gives his characters a lot of time to think. Conversations between characters in this film are filled with deafening pauses, and these wonderful moments of silence also give the audience time to consider what Driver, or Irene or Bernie Rose is really up to.
That is a special quality, and it makes “Drive” one of the most interesting films of the year.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
I will admit the film is more style over Substance
I would put this film in my hall of fame. Unfortunately it is too early. The film is that good.
I can admit i built this movie up in my head, so much there was no way it could reach the expectations i had in my head. It was close. The problem is it is a crime story you have seen a million times only with more applied style. The film definitely has a European feel of making everything, even the grimiest locations and people good looking and smooth.
This was one of the films I looked forward too all year. While it didn’t reach the levels I had expected. It taught me a lesson of how expectations can affect the outlook and impression of a film.
Some reviewers remarked Carey Mulligan’s is miscast. I feel that is because it’s a
role some may feel any good actress could play and a actress of her nature is too big for the typical girlfriend, Damsel in Distress mode. I believe she fills the role well as you need a powerful actress to go toe to toe with Ryan Gosling and make his hard character into a virtual puppy dog around her.
The script is scarce on dialogue more time is devoted to body language, Facial reactions and mood. It’s like a Michael Mann film, though more compact and smaller scaled. The film relies heavily on mood, Soundtrack and score. The soundtrack is excellent and the fashion, style and music make the film seem more like a 80’s themed film.
For the guys it is incredibly violent, even the scenes you have seen before in many films are over the top violent. i would compare the character to the main one in Le Samuorai. Only Gosling’s character is not as Cold Blooded.
If you don’t like the mood and style in the beginning, You are probably not going to like the film by large at all. the film get’s under your skin. It has long Shots that last long where a normal director would cut. The camera stays on the characters so that you get the action and the emotional aftermath. Which leads to some scenes being awkward, yet that makes the scenes and film so special.
I believe Nicolas Winding Refn is a true talent, Here he is just taking something cliché and dressing it up to give it a individual identity set itself apart. I feel he is both trying to impress and express his vision artistically. To tell the truth I would rather the studios give a person who has a vision and has original ideas $100million to make a movie. Then a hack who will bring me a film that is exactly the same as we have seen hundreds of times, but I get it Studios want to be successful it’s like those who want to seem edgy but are really square underneath it all.
He is a talent just as I believe M. Night Shamalayan Has a visual talent. He just believes his own hype his films might be horrible, but the production values. The visuals so crisp and rich. It makes you wish the movies were better.
Nicolas Winding Refn Makes his mark by doing the most genre film he has ever made to date. IT has to be somewhat indulgent and pretentious. If not this would be a run of the mill B-Movie. You had seen before or a action extravaganza that left you bored. It would essentially be one of the films that you complain about and wonder how did this get made. This is the first film Mr. Refn has made that he didn’t write the script for. Surprisingly he only got the Job after Neil Marshall dropped out and Ryan Gosling who ended up Replacing Hugh Jackman as star requested him.
Albert Brooks is great as the low rent gangster in the middle of this. He brings a joyness in his role even though he is a tough person to deal with in the film. His curly hair is straightened to help play a Californian. His character is someone who is totally in control. No Neurosis, No lieing to himself. He’s even likeable despite the evil things he must do.
Ryan Gosling what can I say at first I didn’t get it, his appeal but he is slowly has grown on me and it’s funny the role where he barely talks is the one that impresses me the most. I believe it’s his intenseness. No matter what scene like he could kiss or kill you. The way in which he never takes his eyes off of whoever is in the room. Always looking around for exits and angles. He speaks little in the film but says so much. He also brings a physicality to the role. He let’s his actions do all the talking, With his all American boyish looks (though he is Canadian) He has a innocent look that when he unleashes his viciousness, Is startling. If you loved, THE NOTEBOOK and liked CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE. This film is exactly the Ryan Gosling porn you have been waiting for. So many close-ups of him. A family man of a certain type. Violent but only to protect the ones he cares about. Strong and silent. A man of his word with his own morals. Men want to be him, Women want to be with him. To get more into the character Gosling restored the 1973 Chevy Malibu that his character uses in the film.
The fact that we don’t know anything about his past and it is never explained gives Gosling’s nameless character. The air of mystery and allows us as individuals to indulge ourselves into imagining his past to fit the story and most exciting aspects for ourselves to make him see cooler. Where as if it was explained to us. It would never be as exciting compared to what we imagine ourselves for him.
Yes the violence is excessive more so then is needed. It’s almost like a horror film the level of it is so grisly. It seems it is there to make a point. To shock you and to also make you pay attention. It would seem the more important the character the more violent the death.
I will admit a few scenes seem a bit ridiculously indulgent, but it get’s across certain points. Take the ending the soundtrack seems to be telling you how to feel and think with it’s song selection it’s not over the top but it is leading.
The film feels like it has been put together like a opera. So that everything and every one has a specific purpose and it helps feed and complete the director’s vision. The film is not so much a crowd pleaser, but is a film that forces you to have an opinion on it.
This is a film to be more or less enjoyed and marveled at for it’s technical aspects then anything else. It seems to be a film more for film geeks and hardcore movie watchers more then general audiences.
See as soon as possible. Definitely a addition to the film library.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said a thousand times already. Pop rocks and bloody gloves. From the second the film started I was sucked into the visual style that Nicolas Winding Refn had injected it with, and once the credits began I was convinced the film wasn’t going to disappoint. The movie opens with a heist and it’s an impressive show of palpable intensity, where Refn gets us to care about this guy that we just met and has yet to say a word. Ryan Gosling sitting silent in the car, the only noise being a police radio in the car detailing the scenario as it plays out without us, it was such an effective technique and immediately draws you in. In this day and age, it’s hard to really get taken away by a film, but this one does just that. It takes you to another place and keeps you there for the duration.
Another thing that films generally fail to do currently is make you understand the gravity of violence. It’s so common-place and jazzed up in film that it’s just expected at this point. Drive is one of the more violent films I’ve seen recently, but it does the exact opposite; it makes you feel every drop of blood that hits the pavement. With a Cronenberg-like approach to it, very in your face and blunt with no musical score backing it up, every scene of violence becomes gripping and brutal. In fact, the moments of graphic violence are the least stylized ones in the picture. With his cool, ferocious stare Gosling really packs them with a punch.
I know the main complaint for the film is that the characters aren’t very well-developed, but I don’t see that so much. Yeah, we don’t get a lot of surface development for them, but I think the actors do a magnificent job of really playing who these people are underneath the surface. Driver is that loner who falls into love and it changes his whole life. Irene (played with lovely grace by Carey Mulligan) is the woman who got married and had a kid too young and is getting a taste of the kind of high school crush that makes her feel free and alive again. Shannon (played with surprising vulnerability by Bryan Cranston) is the guy who has been dragged through the mud his whole life, no matter how much hard work he puts in to stop it. The cast is loaded with remarkably talented actors and they all do a fantastic job of bringing what was underneath the surface to our attention.
They make these peoples real while Refn creates this vintage, bubble gum on a blood-stained boot sensation that pours through every scene. Gosling’s suave exterior is hiding a very enraged, borderline psychotic man hiding just underneath. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks are an excellent yin and yang of the criminal world, the former being loud and violent while the other is soft and visceral. The soundtrack is one of the best in quite a while, perfectly capturing the tone that Refn sets to achieve and making the whole thing so vibrant and alive. This is one of those films where everything just pulls itself together so well and vibes without a crack in the shell, bringing you into it’s unique world and taking you on a wild journey that will stick with you. There are so many memorable scenes and I had to grab the soundtrack the moment it was over.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
“Drive” is not only the best movie I have seen thus far in 2011, but one of the most taut and gripping thrillers I have seen in a long time. Its elegance is unmatched by any film released this year and its charisma is downright breathtaking. If you can’t tell, I’m in love with this film. Prior to the release of “Drive”, I had not been a huge fan of director Nicolas Winding Refn. His previous films include “Pusher”, “Bronson” and the wildly atmospheric “Valhalla Rising”. None of these are bad films; they’re all quite good, but none of them ever blew me away or had me wanting to watch them a second time. “Drive” is Refn’s first film that had me fully captivated and wanting to watch it again right after it ended. Refn won the prize for Best Director for this film at Cannes this past May and I must say that is one hell of a well-deserved prize. After the opening sequence alone I was on board and completely mesmerized with his direction style. The whole film is sleek and has an atmosphere of 80s inspired nostalgia which is conveyed through the colour scheme, soundtrack and even the font used in the credits. While watching “Drive”, I felt like I was watching Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice”, Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and Peter Yates’ “Bullitt” have an orgy on screen and I loved every second. This super-stylized, graphic, yet inspiringly gorgeous film is one of my new favourites. A wonderful cast, sharp direction and brilliant technical work makes this a pleasure to watch not just once, but over and over again. (A+)
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Eight years after the intriguing failure of Fear X, Nicolas Winding Refn is back in Hollywood with Drive. The plot is forgettable—a fairly routine noir-inflected crime film plot embroidered with grandiosely brooding Melvillian (Le Samurai is an acknowledged influence on the film) cultivated peculiarity—embodied here in the films fetish objects, a unique jacket with a scorpion on the back, driving gloves, a toothpick, and rabbit’s foot keychain—and brooding sub-Michael Mann L.A. cityscape minimalism which abruptly and wildly careens into a bluntly Dassinesque violence. The organizing pun of the film—From the very first driving scenes we see in the film, it’s clear that the physical acts of driving a car are clearly intended to evoke submerged psychological drives—also owes much to Walter Hill’s 1978 film, The Driver.
Ultimately, there’s not enough meat on the film’s bones to make the jump Refn tries to make with the film (from existential romance to violent action), but its best moments do have a certain visceral grip.
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
It’s safe to say I’m obsessed with the Drive soundtrack, particularly the song “A Real Hero” by College. The song creeps under my skin, and I can either employ it as background music while working or immerse myself in it, letting the synths and dreamy guitar wash over me. I’ve played it in my car several times in an attempt to magically transform myself into Ryan Gosling, like I’m in some sort of 1980’s body-switching film. It hasn’t worked, but driving alongside “A Real Hero” has actually helped me put Drive into perspective. I’ve listened to it with my windows down—the sound becomes flushed out, breezing past my ears and flying out the window. It creates a liberating feeling, similar to the scene where Driver (Ryan Gosling) takes Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son on a joy ride. But with the windows closed, the song becomes trapped, encompassing the entire interior and surrounding the driver. The music is heavier and much more emotional, and it’s the feeling created in the closing shot where Driver heads down the midnight highway.
Similarly, there are two different ways to experience Drive. Having seen it twice, I have experienced both mindsets. It’s easy to view Drive as an auteur’s take on an action film. And if this is how you saw Drive, then it was an extremely rewarding experience. Rarely do we encounter action films that place their characters on a higher mantle than the car chases and explosions. And whether they’re inward characters like Driver or outspoken assholes like Bernie (Albert Brooks), each character has their own personality, making the characters as realistic as they are engaging. And as far as technicalities, Drive is top-notch. The great secret behind any thriller/action film is the suspense lies in the silence, not the storm. There are actually very few bombastic car chases in Drive, countering how the trailer marketed the film. The best example is the film’s opening scene, where Driver loses the cops by studying the landscape and expertly exploiting the streets of Los Angeles. The entire scene holds an edge-of-your-seat quality, which is a method used throughout the film: the film is slow and meticulous, creating an anxiousness in the viewer. You’ll ponder and fret every awful thing that can go wrong, yet it rarely ever does.
So yeah, Drive can just be that extra-special action film that utilizes the genre’s best assets in new and creative ways. But I think we’re not giving director Nicolas Winding Refn and screenwriter Hossein Amini enough credit if we do that—there are too many glaring flaws and ambiguous qualities in Drive if we take it at face value. The answers lies hidden away in Driver, who sees the world differently than you or I. And until we understand Driver, we cannot begin to understand what’s going on around him.
I think, first and foremost, the most important thing to realize is that Driver is demented, possibly even mentally ill. In an interview with AV Club, Gosling, who worked very close with the director and screenwriter during pre-production, said about Driver: “I think that he’s psychotic, but he’s not a psychopath.” Unfortunately, Hollywood has been unable to draw that distinction for years, so audiences have come to expect psychotic characters to be raging lunatics who kill for pleasure. But Driver, being a very inwardly driven character, never wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s methodical, careful, patient. But he’s also isolated and lonely. The attachment he forms with Irene and her son becomes a blessing, which is why many of his scenes with the mother and child take on a different look. When Driver is on the job, that’s the bottom line. Most of the time, the film moves fluidly, never becoming the hyper-stylized version he experiences with Irene. You can take any scene without Driver, for example, which are interfered with the least by lighting or camerawork.
This idea plays directly into another element of Driver, which is his fantastical psyche. Driver places himself inside a film, which is confirmed by Bernie during a scene in the car shop. He discusses the shitty action films he made in the 1980s, which were over-the-top movies that continuously recycled the same leading heroic character. Many of those heroes derive from Clint Eastwood’s “man with no name,” and it’s a direct reflection of Driver, who has no name and is only defined by his work. But Driver doesn’t necessarily believe he’s in a film, but rather has become so enamored by the hero’s role that he’s subconsciously placed himself in the situation. He clearly sees Irene as a damsel in distress, although she’s probably just fine without his interference. He’s taken by her, conveniently shrouding her face in light, giving her an angelic and graceful appearance. Driver’s face is constantly divided in half by the lighting, exploiting the man he wants to be and the man he’s convinced himself to be. He believes he is the one and only defense for Irene, much like Clint Eastwood was the only defense for the town in Fistful of Dollars. To take it a step further, the lighting during the elevator scene confirms such suspicions. Much like in A Single Man, the abrupt change in lighting is meant to convey a mood, and it’s the mood the central character is experiencing. When Driver pushes Irene aside and leans in for the kiss, the lights dim, leaving only a small wall-mounted lamp to light the two. When he pulls away from the kiss, the light slowly fills the elevator until reality sets back in and Driver bashes a dude’s face in.
And yeah, he literally bashes his face in. The random violence, which doesn’t appear until halfway through the film, will become the most polarizing factor of Drive. And really, it becomes the breaking point for my argument. In one aspect, it plays into Driver’s mindset. He’s clearly a person who doesn’t experience reality, but rather places himself in his own fantasy. When he goes to stomp on the man’s face, he does it out of defense. Upon realizing the man is knocked out cold, a fierceness glazes over his eyes and he becomes enraged. Driver loses himself, and during that ten-second window, he experiences the boundaries of his own existentialism. I don’t know if you can literally break a man’s face open with your foot, but the stark reality of doing so strikes a chord in Driver when he snaps back. Repeatedly kicking the man seems like a bad-ass heroic move, but the emotion behind such a heinous act becomes a drug for Driver, switching him from hero to lunatic.
But Drive almost shoots itself in the foot with its own excessive violence. I don’t mind its randomness in the film, nor its extravagance. But in keeping with the film’s mission, which Gosling himself stated, it doesn’t keep in line with the central character’s psyche. The scene where Bernie thrusts a fork into a man’s eye and stabs his neck with a knife is particularly unnerving, due both to its gore and its misplacement. To support such violence, the filmmakers have convinced us that it only exists in Driver’s mind. While the violence is really happening without exaggeration, its excessiveness only exists because Driver has no control over himself. But the fork? Slicing Shannon’s (Bryan Cranston) arm? Blowing Blanche’s (Christina Hendricks) head off with a shotgun? All these situations occur away from Driver, thus we must reach to explain such occurrences.
The argument could be made that the environment was set up properly. Before there is actually any violence, it’s alluded to subtlety. Bernie tells the story of Nino (Ron Perlman) shattering Shannon’s pelvis; Standard is beaten by a couple of gang members; Driver gets in the face of a former associate and tells him he’ll “knock (his) fucking teeth in.” The characters are shed up in a sadistic light as people who smile and go about their daily routines, but deal in pain and death if threatened. But this idea is a stretch for me, which asks us to accept Driver’s fantasy exists within another unrealistic environment. More than anything, I think it’s a problem of unnecessary scenes involving Bernie and Nino. Their only purpose is to advance the plot’s details, and possibly to portray the actual setting versus Driver’s hallucination. But it takes away from the character study of Driver, which is the most intricate and arresting portion of the film. It’s an unfortunate problem, because in taking away from our experience with Driver, it hinders the movie’s greatest strength.
Albert Brooks is amazing in this film, but hey, it’s Albert Brooks. He’ll undoubtedly be graced with an Oscar nomination come February, which may become the only chance this film has at an award. That’s a shame, because the film’s score, cinematography and script are so inconspicuously detailed that they will probably go unnoticed by voters. The same goes for Gosling, who took on the toughest job of all. His character is abnormally quiet, often times sizing up situations instead of acting. But at a moment’s notice, he must change from careful plotter to dauntless protagonist; he has to hide his emotions, and then let them explode. Much like Gosling, we are required to do a little work to achieve a more rewarding experience. Allowing Drive to be an above-average action film with some artistic touches is fine, but it can be so much more rewarding. Not many films dedicate so much attention to one character, and it’s practically non-existent in the action genre. So whether you read an interview, watch the film a second time or listen to the soundtrack in your car, give Drive another chance—what it deserves.
Read more reviews at http://cinemabeans.blogspot.com/
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Gosling’s Driver seems right out of a magazine pictorial that the current star frequents anymore. His stare is cold and indefinite. His trademark jacket is a little out of date, but it says who he is without words. A nameless protagonist is not a regular occurrence in cinemas today, though it would fit right in with the westerns of years ago. In a lot of ways Drive is the new western, with a fresh decal. Stoic leading man, a lot of money at stake, and several bad men waiting to get their hands on it.
Drive has been oft-described as a genre film, and stylistically it is. Nicolas Winding Refn has the same flair for chases, fights, and the type of blood lust that would make one think Quentin Tarantino is being too safe in his age. The violence is quite stylized though, if your stomach is strong enough to take it.
However, Drive is more character focused where other films like Collateral are about plot. A stuntman by day, getaway driver by night, Gosling’s Driver doesn’t resemble what most people refer to as an “L.A. Guy”. He keeps his mouth shut, does his job, and waits for something to thrill him in the meantime. That is until he meets Irene (Carey Mulligan).
Upon meeting Irene the Driver’s life spirals into more hideous acts of brutality than he ever could have anticipated. And having him blend into that world right before her eyes is a shocking experience for her and the audience. He wants love, though we all know he probably won’t ever have it.
Michael Mann’s Thief and William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. are inspirations, but Drive is more conservative in its focus. Refn lights L.A. up beautifully, there are no slums here. Just neon lights and sun-lit rivers for skipping stones. The long takes don’t bring to mind the ADD focus of the Fast and Furious franchise, each second spent lingering tells us everything we need to know. Cliff Martinez’s score throbs like a heart beat amped on Red Bull. Often scores find a way to inadvertently tone down chase scenes, but Martinez nails it here.
Gosling may have finally shed his Notebook image with a McQueen strut and corresponding toothpick hanging out of his lip. I don’t know if Gosling can sneak into a crowded Best Actor field but, God, would that be something. Albert Brooks and Bryan Cranston are cast against type here, but they excel in their respective parts. Ultimately, Drive is a non-starter for the Oscar season, but it is one damn fine film.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Noir is, by definition, a tragedy. It’s hard to orchestrate a tale about fate and doomed and trapped people and not give it the proper dignified operatic ending. Drive is a prime example of what filmmaking is and how to extract the full potential of the visual elements. The biggest tour de force in this cryptic piece comes, precisely, from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. The colorblind filmmaker gives Drive a very peculiar pace, one that manipulates the audience with such irony and contempt, emulating, in that sense, his overall vision of disenchantment with life’s sarcasm. From the magnificently silent opening sequence the audience immediately knows that the main character is trapped, doomed in his past, his present and, inevitably (like any noir), his future. And from then on Winding Refn builds, shot after shot, the tension to uncontrollable dimensions. And when the crisp, pristine and sustained imagery and storytelling explodes, it’s brutal… diabolically painful. The bright mundane becomes the surreal darkness of a filthy Los Angeles paradoxically trapped in its own wideness. There’s no escape, no turning back but Refn goes even further and makes the experience more painful, more real by giving Gosling opportunities. It’s definitely not by chance that the filmmaker so often framed ‘EXIT’ signs towards Gosling’s back and far, far away from his rational thought. And a part from some more contemporary choices, Drive is shot like a classic film noir that further enhances Gosling’s entrapment and all the suspenseful and gritty storytelling that follows: low angles to close ceilings, diagonal lines, triangular shapes, use of shadows, inventive camera angles, experimental shots, fluid storytelling, use of eye-line and small body movements to enhance suspense (among several other elements).
Nonetheless, what really impresses is Refn’s sensibility in telling the story. Not only it is incredibly shot and skillfully put on screen by Newton Thomas Siegel (astounding cinematography), but when it comes to the bare essentials, it’s impossible to conclude that the filmmaker didn’t make every single possible right decision, both during shooting but also in the editing room. Those long dissolves and cross-cuttings tell more about the story that the already inexistent dialog ever would. I particularly would like to highlight a phone ‘conversation’ between Gosling and Carey Muligan that starts with the ‘Driver’ and his first few words on the left of the frame and then slowly dissolves to Mulligan on camera right attentively listening and emotionally affected while Gosling’s face slowly disappears on camera left. In a very simple process, Refn puts us in touch with two people, a part from each other, people that both know their fates and there, in that moment, accept it. A particularly fantastic example of the second technic would be the final confrontation which boosts every aspect of the classic approach to storytelling in noir making it all the more effective. There are no dull or careless shots. Every piece of film fills a purpose and it’s amazing to see such bravery in directing the actors by pushing them to retain their words and emotions until they reach a total state of rawness that pops from the screen as an uncomfortable glance of brilliance. In that aspect, two things can be said form Gosling’s performance: 1) his eyes tell the entire story. We don’t need to know his past because we can already feel it. 2) it s the characters around him that make the audience connect with his personality and therefore a change from the usual formula of having actions that make us entwined with his life. If on the one hand this is risky since it can very well steer some viewers away and affect the credibility of his actions, it is also true that it is a bold effort explored to the perfection. Gosling becomes this mystery man as human as he could ever be, a psychopath with a heart and a sense of justice. Hardly he could have done a better job living the character he was given. The remaining cast, is given quite peculiar personas and if in the beginning they might be hard to reach, they slowly start to grow to become solid representations of the mundane. An excellent bunch of actors solidify these characters. And also in this choice (among so many others), Drive is reminiscent of Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.
Still regarding Refn’s over-talked stylized violence I’d like to point out the intelligence in which he uses it and how poetic and operatic it becomes towards the end. Yes, it is incredibly damaging to the eyesight but also impossible to not look at. It establishes mood and intention and once it starts (quite softly) we can only expect the continuation increasing in occasions and in intensity. Nonetheless, it doesn’t become a roaring rampage of mindless revenger. Refn never loses control and maintains the pace established, storytelling-wise. But the violence grows, reaches its peak and then, all of a sudden, when you’d expect a burst of blood, it carefully decreases in intensity to the point of sheer portraits of what the violence might be (i.e. final confrontation), paying, right there and then, the ultimate respect to the classic film noir (Fritz Lang comes to mind).
A big appraisal should also be given to Cliff Martinez’s composition and the soundtrack that ultimately serve two main purposes: underscoring the tension from minute one and helping to create a stimulating and somewhat revolutionary and antithetic sound style. Both composition and soundtrack represent a powerful ingredient that potentiates the balance between the elements.
However, Drive’s greatness has a flaw: the underdeveloped script. In the hands of a director with another vision, Drive might have very well been a failure. Refn makes the screenplay fly but the truth is that we are introduced to script elements that don’t really pay off. We are first put in a world that quickly dissipates in its fakeness pushing to the boundaries the point of connection between audiences and its characters. Also, the introduction of certain subplots generate expectations that are never met. And if it’s perfectly understandable that, in a sense, that was the purpose, it can’t be denied that one might want to see and know more. That’s well rooted into human curiosity. I wouldn’t say that this aspect defines what Drive is and what it means but, as I see it, and as a ultimate believer in storytelling starting in the script, this fact doesn’t allow Drive to reach total harmony.
Drive is, in it’s final instance, a strike of hope in current Hollywood: a reasonably mainstream movie that actually excels (cum laude intended) the regular standards. And in a sense of personal expectations, this may very well be a reminiscence of when Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and so many others first came to America in the late ‘20s, early ’30s and changed the industry with their ’mad’, pessimistic and ironic european vision. And most of them embraced the truest genre (or sub-genre as Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader and others put it) in the several branches of filmmaking: noir, the only genre that actually understands the human being, the human mind and the human deepest and rooted desires and motivations. Refn’s picture becomes a contemporary interpretation of a classical concept and it is my belief that other filmmakers will understand this point and rise to the occasion in a currently hurt society that every day crumbles a little bit more towards the fate we all know that will eventually come. More than a Refnesque stylized violence, Drive is representative of a very sane realism by an intelligent director that knows how to tell a story and shock its audiences.
Drive feels like the start to something else, something yet undefined but something promising.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Bold Films, Odd Lot Entertainment, Marc Platt Productions, Seed Productions
STARRING Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Ron Perlman, Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac
WRITTEN BY Hossein Amini, based on the novel by James Sallis
PRODUCED BY Michael Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker, Adam Siegel
DIRECTED BY Nicolas Winding Refn
SHOT BY Newton Thomas Sigel
EDITED BY Matthew Newman
MUSIC BY Cliff Martinez
DISTRIBUTED BY FilmDistrict
Well. They’re talking about it, I’m talking about it, you’ll likely talk about it. I feel like I’m sitting on a big secret just for having seen this. But yes. Mmm. That one stayed in my system until noon the next day… Tasty. Tasty, but I don’t know if I’d be comfortable giving it more than 3/5. See it in the theater, to be sure. Bit of an odd one – lots of fun to watch, and elicited wonderful reactions from the audience… but I was ever aware I was watching a derivative genre exercise and indeed that pacing slackened precipitously at times. You might even say it’s “dated.” The most satisfying moments are the ones in which the viewer is reeling in Gosling’s intensity. He stands larger than life. It’s really a fantasy film, we are not watching reality. Interaction and emotion are inspired by abstractions. An experimental driver film. Sure.
Oh, right, facts – - Producer Marc Platt approached Ryan Gosling, and Gosling was given the opportunity to approach a director with the project – his first choice was former Copenhagenian Nicolas Winding Refn and few will complain. I only know Refn from one of 2008’s best, the bravura Bronson – just now realized 2009’s Valhalla Rising is attributable to Refn, and that one was avoided because of the big muscular ancient old warrior man on the DVD’s American cover (Bronson’s not dissimilar cover image was a minor distraction). And Drive‘s story is clearly beneath the actor and director: Hollywood stunt driver by day, freelance getaway driver by night, an attempt to go straight, a botched robbery, vengeance, tense phone calls, blood & gore, a large pile of money. Do I even need to detail the story? Just dropping those choice words should be enough. We’re never as happy as when we’re watching Gosling radiate his silent confidence – silent and direct as one of Jean-Pierre Melville’s criminals.
Occasionally Refn’s fantastical ‘turn-based dialogue’ is tough to swallow, and occasionally we wonder why the NPCs (non-player characters – more RPG vernacular, sorry) sit and silently watch and wait as Gosling does his spotlight routine. But usually what’s going on around it is so enjoyable we don’t give a damn. Drive‘s greatest strength, then, is also a large detractor, and this lies in Refn’s desire to ‘archetypitize’ (not a word) the story – according to Wikipedia (I’m sorry) he was inspired here by fairy tales. So every character is Jack, every villain is a Giant, every movement is a stanza.
Carey Mulligan. While I’m sure she enjoyed herself, the poor thing spent most of her screentime staring silently at Gosling, wanting us to see the tenderness beneath those ever-watery eyes of hers, or moping around her stylish proletariat LA apartment. I later read that her role was originally written for an early-20’s Latina, but I damn well sensed it during the screening – particularly when Gosling surprises her at work and we see that she is a waitress at a crappy LA diner… They had me going until I saw Carey in that uniform. Too pretty. Too much in control of her emotions. My conclusion: Mulligan was cast to romanticize and thusly archetypitize the relationship between her character and The Unnamed Driver. I frankly see no reason to do any star-crossing – for a criminal who genuinely wants to escape crimelife, a way out is a way out. And I’ll say something about Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks: hammy and expected. Not unwelcome. No need to elaborate. And no need to say anything at all about Bryan Cranston, who gets enough attention.
Drive is marketed to sell: hot genre flick with equally hot actor, and Christina Hendricks (who’s on screen for perhaps less than 10 minutes). What the marketers are happy to tell you, but terrified to explain, is that Drive won the Best Director award at 2011’s Cannes Film Festival. It is perhaps the most commercially viable auteur exercise I’ve ever seen – and I’ll tell you, the audience loved it. Further reviews reveal that all audiences are loving it. Again: see this in the theater. It is a highly stylized Los Angeles noir experience. See the night and the landscape defined by the million electric dots, see the bleached curves of Topanga Canyon during a chase. Movement is explicitly choreographed, characters move in and out of pools of light just for the camera – but we never care. It’s really a very attractive film.
There are more than a few qualities of this film which brought ‘Tarantino’ to mind… Tarantino, perhaps, if he attempted to be more earnest than entertaining (a direction I hope he avoids), and perhaps as such was not able to hold our attention quite as long. There will be words spoken about the film’s excessive and abrupt moments of violence & gore (everybody loved those). The romantic scenes between Gosling and Mulligan were, I thought, drawn-out, but I’ll concede that a hot drive may just be the best date one could have. Refn is earnest but the story is derivative, so there are moments in which he feel the film’s length (and it isn’t even long). The style that Refn oozes cannot make up for the fact that behind those images we’re lingering on is a story each one of us knows by heart.
I really don’t want to sound too excited – I don’t even necessarily want to watch it again – but I daresay this is why people go to movies. I’d go into more detail but I don’t want to spoil the good parts. There are a few scenes which bleed. Gosling always holds us rapt – he’s earned this. There he stands. Everybody is going to love him for this.
written by David Ashley
- Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
Opening up on a nocturnal Los Angeles that seems to exist in a foggy, underwater daze, “Drive” establishes itself immediately as a stylishly moody thriller with an icy cool precision. It’s not until the heads get smashed and Gosling’s enigmatic, ruthlessly efficient Driver becomes a killing machine does it really sink in just how luridly disquieting the film is, the blood-splattered walls perhaps not even the apex of its slowly rattling menace. What haunts is the atmosphere, dark, queasy, shot through with more than a tinge of claustrophobia, scored to synthetic 80s beats that sound as though they were trapped below Los Angeles’ concrete surface. Then there’s Ryan Gosling, in a performance so stealthy, composed, and apparently invulnerable he feels more like psychotic myth than real person. The character arc of his Driver plays out like a twisted superhero origin story, his existence a kind of amped up action hero fantasy. In this fantasy, however, his fatalistic nature proves as deadly as a scorpion’s inevitable sting.
The worst thing about Drive is the hideous, misuse of Mistral during the credits. You sit there, as Ryan Gosling drives into the night, wondering if you’ve been transported to a grittier version of Miami Vice. Maybe genre films remain an insular interest because the kitsch factor is too embedded in their culture? After all, this is the font that graced the intro of television’s Night Court.
But then the film unfolds. And sets up. And takes off. And during this ride, which can effectively be described as a classic noir tale with a penchant for real violence, there is nary a hole that can be poked. Every second is necessary, every shot elegant, every piece of music supports the action on the screen. Every question normally asked of a film, this one answers either with some level of extrapolation or faith in its characters. Gosling, credited simply as “Driver,” is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s The Man with No Name. We gradually discover over time that he’s exactly the kind of person missing in 99% of Hollywood cinema: One that doesn’t cop out. That, in itself, is a tremendous victory.
As those who’ve watched his Pusher trilogy as well Tom Hardy’s brilliant, psychotic coming-out party in Bronson can testify, Winding Refn is a momentous talent. In fact, the lyrics of Kavinsky and Lovefoxxx’s “Nightcall,” which overtures the opening sequence, speaks of both the director as well as Gosling’s Driver: There’s something about you, it’s hard to explain. They’re talking about you, boy, like you’re still the same. In short: They are not to be underestimated. Drive shows the maturation of Winding Refn as a controlled director, Gosling as an action star and together they’ve come up with a fine piece of entertainment that’s a beauty to look at, satisfying to watch and evocative enough to remember.
Originally posted at Life as Fiction.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Remember the last 10 minutes of ‘Thief’ when James Caan took out an entire mob all by himself? Remember the elevator scene in ‘Sonatine’ when Takeshi Kitano massacres an elevator full of people? Or how about the classic car chase scenes from ‘Bullit’, ‘French Connection’ or ‘The Bourne Identity’? Nicolas Refn’s ‘Drive’ is all of those things with additional nods to the film making styles of Stanley Kubrick (which can be seen in other Nicolas Refn films like ‘Fear X’ and ‘Bronson’) and Quentin Tarantino. Ever since ‘Pulp Fiction’ there’s been a decade and a half of ultra violent and/or multi character films that get an undeserved comparison to it (‘smokin aces’, ‘snatch’, ‘2 days in the valley’, ‘Boondock Saints’, ‘Go’, etc etc etc). But ‘Drive’ is one of the few films that actually deserves some comparison to stuff like ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Pulp Fiction’ as well as the films of Michael Mann.. Even the font used in the ads and the opening credits for ‘Drive’ are reminiscent of old action films from the 80’s like ‘Thief’ or ‘To Live & Die In LA’.
In ‘Drive’, Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stuntman by day and a getaway car driver by night. On his latest getaway car assignment (which he takes out of the kindness of his heart to help out a girl he’s in love with) he gets caught up in a somewhat convoluted double crossing that goes terribly wrong (at no fault of his own) and now gangsters are after him. Instead of running and hiding, he takes the fight to them, showing that he can do more than just drive cars. In fact, Gosling’s violent temper is quite over the top at times. Through the course of the movie we see graphic close-ups of shotgun blasts to the face, people being beaten with hammers, repeated throat stabbings (courtesy of Albert Brooks) and a face smashing scene that rivals the opening of Gaspar Noe’s ‘Irreversible’. ‘Drive’ has more than its share of clichés. But Nicolas Refn seems to embrace all of that. There’s plenty of moments in the film that Nicolas Refn clearly put in just because it looked cool. But for some reason that doesn’t seem to bother me. It’s SO entertaining and fun. And all of these clichés are mixed with great film making and cinematography, so it balances everything out. Prior to ‘Drive’, Nicolas Refn had pretty much been labeled an “art house” director. But in just about all of his films he seemed to dabble in violence and action more & more. Looking at his last 2 features like the ‘Clockwork Orange’-influenced ‘Bronson’ and the tripped out ‘Valhalla Rising’, which were both action films disguised as art house films, it only makes sense that his next movie be an all out entertaining, crossover action movie for ALL audiences (and not just snobs like me).
The beauty of Drive’s existence is all of the movies that it either references or has similarities too (whether it be intentionally or subconsciously). Just about anyone who loves good action films should be able to enjoy this. I mean just look back at all the movies that I’ve name dropped in this review so far. If you’re a fan of the 1980’s William Freidken, Michael Mann, Cronenberg, Quentin Tarantino or Stanley Kubrick, you’re going to LOVE this movie.
The lead role in ‘Drive’, which was originally intended for Hugh Jackman, was important for Ryan Gosling. He needed to establish himself as an all around leading man. He’s considered one of the best young actors out today, yet action is the one realm he hadn’t conquered. …Until now. He’s clearly shown that he can hold it down in dramatic films (‘Half Nelson’ & ‘Valentine’), psychological thrillers (‘Murder By Number’ & ‘Frantic’) and heartfelt comedies (‘Lars & The Real Girl’), so it was only right that a great action film was his next conquest. It’s as if he called upon the spirit of Alain Delon (with a quietly violent temper) and gave one of his best performances. The rest of the cast, made up of everyone from Ron Perlman & Bryan Cranston to Carry Mulligan & Christina Hendricks is great. But the standout performance, aside from Gosling, is from Albert Brooks who plays a more than convincing villain. This is probably Albert Brooks’ best performance since Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Out Of Sight’. Anyone familiar with Brooks’ career should know that not only is he recognized for comedies, but the roles he plays are usually weaselly and/or dorkish characters. He’s quite ruthless in ‘Drive’. This may be one of the best ensemble casts in a LONG time. Everything just seemed to fall in to place. You have 3 of the most popular TV actors at the moment: Ron Perlman (sons of anarchy), Christina Hendricks (mad men) and Bryan Cranston (breaking bad), 2 of the most popular young actors out right now (Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan) and a veteran actor (Albert Brooks), all in the same film.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
“It’s called Drive . There’s Ryan Gosling. There’s action. There’s romance. There’s car chases. There’s french pop music. It’s only 99 minutes. I hope you’ll enjoy it, thank you.” Voilà les mots par lesquels Nicolas Winding Refn nous présente son dernier film projeté en avant-première aux Halles hier soir. Très applaudi, le timide réalisateur danois, récompensé à Cannes par le Prix de la mise en scène (ô combien mérité tant Drive est un bijou d’élégance) ne sera pas resté longtemps pour introduire son métrage. Mais on lui pardonne aisément dès les premières secondes tant son film transpire la classe.
On est immergé immédiatement dans l’ambiance aux premières notes d’une BO electro-pop 80s réjouissante et les premières images d’un L-A sublimé par la photographie ultra-léchée de Thomas Sigel Newton. Chaque plan est une petite perle. Plebiscité par la critique et forcément très attendu, Drive est à la hauteur de sa réputation déjà très solide. Malgré une trame plutôt classique, la magie opère et le spectateur est suspendu à chaque séquence, tant la tension monte progressivement au fil du film. La mise en scène sublime de NWR est d’une maîtrise inouï qu’on a l’impression que le talent suinte à chaque plan.
Son interprète principal, le génial Ryan Gosling, est fascinant dans le rôle de ce cascadeur solitaire, réservé et parfois quasi-mutique – personnage comme les aime NWR – mais aussi attachant qu’imprévisible et inquiétant. Le jeu du comédien est tellement évocateur que les mots lui sont dispensables, un regard tendre (ou tourmenté) ou un sourire discret suffisent dans certaines scènes. Sa partenaire à l’écran, avec qui la symbiose opère magnifiquement, n’est pas en reste. L’alchimie entre les deux acteurs est évidente et apporte beaucoup à cette romance atypique. Ce jeune et séduisant tandem est également remarquablement bien accompagné avec des seconds rôles à faire fantasmer bon nombre de cinéastes : Bryan Cranston (aka Walter White dans Breaking Bad), Ron Perlman ou encore Christina Hendricks, pour ne citer qu’eux. Une quasi-perfection sur tous les niveaux qui permet au spectateur de passer les meilleures 90 minutes cinématographiques de l’année et dès la sortie de la salle, on aurait presque déjà envie d’y retourner. Malheureusement pour cela, il faudra attendre début Octobre.
DRIVE | NICOLAS WINDING REFN | 2011 | 4,5/5
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.