65- Drive [9.5]
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 viewing Nicolas Winding Refn’s outstanding last film Bronson, I was anxious to see more of the director’s work. His visual style, often heightened by his excellent soundtrack, choices make Refn a filmmaker to watch out for. I’m happy to say that Drive is another example of why he may be one of the more unique directors working today.
Drive says a lot despite the sparse amounts of dialogue, largely anchored by the standout performances of leads Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The saying goes “eyes are the window to the soul”, and be it Gosling as Driver looking through his rear view mirror or Mulligan viewing unspeakable horror, both actors do so much with just their eyes. Oscar Isaac is worth a mention as well. His scene in the hallway with Gosling is surprisingly one of the more memorable for me.
Refn seems aware of the cliches of the genre, but what makes Drive standout is the execution of the directing, editing and acting. No matter how many times a story is told, it’s the manner in which it is told that will determine whether the film will stand the test of time. In that regard, Refn’s visual flourishes matched by the largely electronic soundtrack make for one of the more compelling films I’ve seen this year. Though Drive almost proceeds at a languid pace, it felt as if it was over in no time.
There were some elements I wish were further explored. Christina Hendrick’s role was largely underwritten, and her acting took me out of her scenes. Also, the storyline involving Bryan Cranston’s character from the first act gets largely ignored until a brief mention towards the end. Regardless, Drive is a film I’m very much looking forward to seeing again. It also makes me wish I was a badass driver.