"DRIVE" (2011) MOVIE REVIEW
Independent Films, Movie Reviews, Interviews
Ryan Gosling is having a great year. The thinking man’s heartthrob gave a memorable performance in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and he is set to steal the spotlight from George Clooney in the upcoming political drama “The Ides of March.”
In “Drive,” Gosling, a gifted risk-taker of an actor, delivers a subdued yet fully realized portrayal of a man who works as a Hollywood stunt driver by day and a getaway wheelman at night.
Much like Ryan O’Neal in 1978’s “The Driver,” Gosling’s character is simply called Driver. He’s a man with no name and he rarely speaks. We understand his psyche from what he chooses to wear – a satin jacket with a logo of a golden scorpion.
The notion of masculinity is taken for a spin in “Drive.” Driver’s macho character is presented with the pulsating beat of the Eurosynth-heavy soundtrack, and the title sequence is adorned by hot pink graphics.
The end result is a movie that both fans of the action genre and art-house cinema lovers will embrace. “Drive” is a cerebral action film that is truly one of the best movies of the year.
Big credit goes to director Nicholas Winding Refn (“Bronson”), the Danish director who is the driving force of this neo-noir thriller. A self-confessed fan of Hollywood movies, Refn has been clearly influenced by films such as the 1968 Steve McQueen flick, “Bullitt,” and Michael Mann’s “Thief.”
Refn also dedicates “Drive” to the avant-garde Chilean filmmaker, Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky, who loves to suffuse his work of art with violent surreal images. “Drive” uses violence sparingly but to great effect. The film will make you use your imagination
Like a classic film noir, supporting roles are written with much verve. Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) gives an impressive performance as Shannon, Driver’s one-man mechanic, agent, and manager, as well as the closest thing he has to a friend.
I also enjoyed Carey Mulligan (“An Education”) as Irene, the heart of the movie. She is Driver’s neighbor and his eventual love interest. Soon, Driver is spending more time with Irene and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). But trouble arises with the return of Irene’s ex-convict husband Standard (Oscar Isaac).
Ron Perlman as the hot-headed gangster Nino also gave a commendable performance, but my favorite is Albert Brooks, playing against type as the deceptively friendly and low-key criminal Bernie Rose.
In great crime films, the hero and the villain are connected in a meaningful way for they have as much in common as they have differences. Driver is Yin to Bernie’s Yang and their relationship adds fuel to this highly-charged drama.
Based on the book by James Sallis, scriptwriter Hossein Amini captures the tone and spirit of the novel but gives us a pulsating material aided by rhythmic montages of downtown LA with pounding musical score by Cliff Martinez. It’s a visceral treat!
In the recently held Cannes Film Festival, Refn won the Best Director Prize and “Drive” received a 15-minute standing ovation. Rev it up folks and take “Drive” for a test drive. It’s really good.
RATING: 4 KISSES!!!!
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
Driver is a Los Angeles wheelman for hire, stunt driving for movie productions by day and steering getaway vehicles for armed heists by night. Though a loner by nature, Driver can't help falling in love with his beautiful neighbor Irene, a vulnerable young mother dragged into a dangerous underworld by the return of her ex-convict husband Standard. After a heist intended to pay off Standard's protection money spins unpredictably out of control, Driver finds himself driving defense for the girl he loves, tailgated by a syndicate of deadly serious criminals. But when he realizes that the gangsters are after more than the bag of cash in his trunk - that they're coming straight for Irene and her son - Driver is forced to shift gears and go on offense.
Action/Adventure, Drama, Thriller, Crime/Gangster and Adaptation
1 hr. 40 min.
September 16th, 2011 (limited)
R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity.
Cast and Credits
Ryan Gosling , Carey Mulligan , Albert Brooks , Bryan Cranston , Ron Perlman
Nicholas Winding Refn
Year of Production: 2011
Country: United States