The elevator scene…
The greatest violence is juxtaposed against the sweetest moment between Driver and Irene. Is that to amplify both experiences? Is that to show that both are primal instincts? Or is it needless violence to make the film a genre piece?
The hammer to the hand…
The shower curtain rod stabbed into the throat of the enemy….
Driver walking around killing everybody soaked in blood like he is mentally off like Sling Blade…
I enjoyed the violence of course, but is violence needed to the degree that it was used in this film. I mean we were seeing pure HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN splatter-gore violence in DRIVE, yet it is a fairy tale romance not a Grindhouse piece.
Please….feedback on this…
I enjoyed the violence of course
that’s my answer.
also, using your logic, couldn’t one argue that the elevator kiss could be considered needless romance to make the film a genre piece?
it’s only needless if that’s not what the director was going for. like a nude scene in an action film.
Violence is pretty much Refn’s artistic mileau.
Yes it is necessary
Q: Without the violence, what, exactly, would Drive be?
A: Not Drive.
My opinion, I thought the violence was excessive in its moments and distracting from what the surrounding plot was trying to (or thought it was trying to) get across. Nothing new, just the same old blood, guts and manly men killing each other over macho idealisms.
There are more fascinating alternatives, a couple of which I found Refn’s film trying to emulate:
Thief (1981, Michael Mann)Le Samourai (1967, Jean-Pierre Melville)Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974, Sam Peckinpah)The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976, John Cassavetes)Brother (2000, Takeshi Kitano)
Those particular five features I would choose over Drive.
And on top of that, if it is a lesson in violence and manliness you are looking for, look no further than Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Not the Lurie remake, the original.
that is sexist. and unfairly dismissive.
edit- make a comment like that with the gender roles reversed and the likes of ruby stevens would be on your ass.
Agreed completely. His recurring theme is violence as the underlying principle of human existence. Drawn out vividly in the doomed arcs of Bronson and Valhalla Rising, emerging as the product of man boiled down to his essential in Fear X, and surfacing as a defense mechanism in Drive. His characters are always consummate professionals, the best in their fields, turned toward violence one way or another and finding it’s the only method they can truly master.
I felt the graphic violence in those scenes served a meaningful purpose. Here are some of the reasons off the top of my head:
The scenes were shocking and that was effective, given that he seemed like a calm, at times, gentle man (even though he had this shady past). On the other hand, I did get the sense that there might be a volcano under there somewhere (maybe mostly because Gosling has that kind of vibe—similar to someone like De Niro). What purpose does this serve? I saw the film as an expression of manliness—our specific ideas about this concept—and I felt these explosions of graphic violence were more honest expressions than we normally see in action films. Most action films stylize and glamorize the both the macho leads as well as the violence caused by the lead. The film’s violence and manliness is stylized as well, but the graphic depictions create more ambivalence towards the violence and the macho character, imo.
The contrast between Gosling’s calm, at times childlike, character and the volcanic violence is effective because it suggests the hidden danger of this type of manly character. This darker side is part of our conception of manliness, and I think the graphic violence is an honest depiction of this.
Well they are, and to their extreme not very sensible or sane. It’s in my opinion Drive makes the violence out to be heroic, which I find flawed. And is it sexist of me to speak critically of my own gender? There are many flaws and errors in the last thousand years of masculine power and will to power to be accounted for, I don’t think it was sexist of me to merely state the characters of Drive as upholding macho idealisms involving neolithic-type brutality.
“This darker side is part of our conception of manliness, and I think the graphic violence is an honest depiction of this.”
I can see where you are coming from, one way of putting it as Gosling’s semi-robotic performance as being the peril of going to that extreme of hypermasculinity (too much Yang over Yin) and I can see how the violence would be used to accentuate the idea, but I take into account that a good deal of this film’s audience have also been used to the fetishizations of ultraviolence in the horror and action films of this past decade which seem to capitalize on this glorification and glamorization of hyperreal fascination on killing, and I find that if there was such an intent in Refn’s and Gosling’s work, then it wasn’t clear enough to be read as such. The exploding head in the bathroom in particular seemed to be overdoing it in my mind, being just as easily sold as a bloody money shot of sorts.
Re: “hidden danger”
Are you sure that Refn isn’t suggesting that it’s the potential for violence is what attracted Irene to the Driver in the first place? In other words, maybe the danger isn’t so hidden.
Are you sure that Refn isn’t suggesting that it’s the potential for violence is what attracted Irene to the Driver in the first place? In other words, maybe the danger isn’t so hidden
Going off her baby daddy’s history, it’s clear to me that she was attracted to bad boys.
Matt said, Are you sure that Refn isn’t suggesting that it’s the potential for violence is what attracted Irene to the Driver in the first place? In other words, maybe the danger isn’t so hidden.
I do think she might sense this toughness/agression—and this might also draw her to him—but does she know the extreme form it could take? In other words, machismo can be appealing in a latent form or in mild expressions. But the latency and mild expressions belie the actual danger and horror of such violence. So the film might want viewers to understand the full significance of being attracted to manliness.
I guess for me, I found the violence a bit disturbing, making the character and the violence less glamorous—or at least adding some degree of ambiguity. Gosling character still seems appealing and attractive, but the graphic violence makes make him less so—as not only is the violence horrible, but it makes the character seem psychologically unstable (read: crazy). Now, consider if the violence were less graphic? I think he and the violence would be more glorified and glamorous.
I can see that in that context, indeed, by making it tame and pretty it would make it further lame and petty.
I don’t know, perhaps it is something in his character that seemed to be unconvincing on that basis. A lot of the time I kept seeing his awkward silences with Carey Mulligan as moments where I expected either of them to say, “Line?” He’s flat to me, something that can’t be all too identified with because he’s two-dimensional, and at times not even that. My argument being that I’ve seen this film done before many times and the prior variations seemed to have more to say about masculine problems with violence than Drive seems to pose, and the character of the driver that Gosling portrays being a cardboard cutout traced from prior incarnations that had more authenticity and integrity in their artistic being. Maybe I’m just bitching, but I can’t seem to really appreciate this film by Refn as any valid testimony to being a man.
“I do think she might sense this toughness/agression—and this might also draw her to him—but does she know the extreme form it could take? "
Well, as Mogambo pointed out, her husband was a criminal, which suggests she may have a track record of being attracted to extreme forms, so . . .
And, while she certainly seems duly horrified by the scene in the elevator, and she’s nowhere near fatale enough to be a proper femme fatale, she does actually end up directly benefiting from all the violence—the only thing she loses in the ex-con husband she clearly wasn’t too fond of anyway—so it’s not exactly a cautionary tale.
For all the machismo bashing going on in this thread, it is what made the film so popular.
You take the violence out and you have a chick flick. So regardless of whether or not you believe in ‘macho idealism’, it is what drew a great deal of the film’s audience. I loved the juxtaposition of the indie staring at each other vibe with hip music and the macho idealism.
Maybe I’m just bitching, but I can’t seem to really appreciate this film by Refn as any valid testimony to being a man.
FWIW, I don’t see the film as a “valid testimony to being a man.” I see it as a stylized expression of an idealized conception of manliness. Gosling’s character has the stereotypical qualities we associate with a guy’s guy—he’s super competent—at driving and working with cars, no less; he’s not very communicative; he’s protective of the vulnerable; he’s tough, etc.
And I don’t think the film tries to express this through a serious or realistic drama, with realistic characters. The expression is more abstract and comes through the visuals and the tone of the film, imo. It’s more formalistic versus narrative-based or a realistic character study.
Maybe. But I don’t think we can assume that her husband was violent to the same degree as Gosling’s character. (Indeed, the husband may be a bad boy, but not necessarily extremely violent.)
…—so it’s not exactly a cautionary tale.
I don’t know if the film is a cautionary tale—or at least I don’t think the film cautions the viewers based on what happens to the woman. Instead, I think the graphic violence makes the viewer more ambivalent towards both Gosling’s character and our notions of machismo/manliness.
Jazz has hit this one on the head, but here’s some appropriately abundant bludgeoning of the nail.
The film is an analysis of “the same old blood, guts and manly men killing each other over macho idealisms.” The Driver and Brooks’ character are in the same doomed boat. Men who don’t know how to feel or define themselves except through violence, power, and plots. Consider the Driver being a Hollywood stunt driver. Consider the blatant “Hero” song. The film is a send-up of the Western archetype of the heroic male, and the Hollywood action hero is reasonably enough the ripe means through which to examine this. In this sense, yes—the violence is meant to terrify and repulse—its fervency and emphasized nature is the means by which the film reclaims it from its trivialization and commodification as some sort of aphrodisiac, unifying, identity-defining rite of the righteous male in modern culture. The violence is the fruit of this wayward attempt to actualize oneself as a man, and so the film must italicize and hyperrealize this content in order to penetrate our generally jaded modern sensibilities.
I don’t mind it, but the fucking soundtrack makes me want to be violent.
It doesn’t have a lot of violence throughout, but when it comes it releases hellfire. Refn’s motto is that violence IS art, so I’m totally behind there being a face stomping.
This is like asking if The Ring cycle needs all those women singing….
“I think the graphic violence makes the viewer more ambivalent towards both Gosling’s character and our notions of machismo/manliness.”
OK, but this has been done in hundreds of films over the years, so what makes in particularly interesting in this film?
^To answer that question, here is what OP wrote:
The greatest violence is juxtaposed against the sweetest moment between Driver and Irene.
The juxtaposition is o so delicious. It takes the best elements of several genres and blends it into a masterpiece.
About the elevator sequence- The “Where is my Money” Family guy sequence is more disturbing by far. And that aired during prime time in a cartoon show.
Also, this is the first time I’ve read any complaints about the amount of violence. Most of my friends were critical of the slowness and love story. They wanted more action sequences.
edit- I usually defend it by saying the film was marketed wrong. Bait and switch with the action.
Aside from the form?
The fact that the film treats these violent outbursts as infantile tantrums. Every character in the film seems to, taking their cues from the movies, be acting out some sort of childish fantasy about how someone in their position should behave. We have the gangster who steals from the NY mob because they called him names, the mechanic who has absolutely no idea how the real world works and seems to live off wishful thinking, the delicate, ethereal, petite waif and our driver himself who seems to go to great pains to match his outfit, dialogue, posture and attitude to whatever idea of machismo Hollywood has fed him.
I don’t think the film finds the Driver to be a heroic figure. By stripping the genre down to its barest components it, if anything, reveals what lies behind the typical filmic ideal of the laconic, takes-no-shit-from-anyone “hero”: a whole lot of nothing but wish fulfillment signifying even less.
“The juxtaposition is o so delicious.”
That’s been done before, too. Ford’s The Quiet Man ends with what is literally called the “longest brawl ever put on film” and in the final shot has O’Hara suggesting a midday screw to Wayne.
First of all, I can’t really think of a lot of action films that have done this. And I’m thinking of action-oriented films that also portray the violence in a way to disturb the audience so that they see the hero in a more ambivalent light. I’m sure there must be others films that have done, this, but “hundreds” seems a bit of reach.
Second, and more importantly, I’m not saying the approach is the sole reason for the film’s worth. I’m mainly responding to the OP.