* Ryan Gosling
* Carey Mulligan
* Albert Brooks
* Bryan Cranston
* Ron Perlman
Director:- Nicolas Winding Refn
Danish director Winding Refn, a film maker I was totally unaware of til now, has restored my faith in filmmaking – an absolute beast of a feat. Drive has undoubtedly become my favourite film this year to date – bringing to light that this is still an art form to behold and praise. It’s made me excited and eager to watch movies again – reminding of an era of cinema long forgotten, trampled and shit on by the onslaught of mindless, dumbing pieces of work that belong in the bottom of the ocean. In the wake of its release, Drive caused a great divide among film fans and some critics alike – Whether it’s the ‘misleading’ trailer, or the ‘misleading’ title – I am one that struggles to comprehend why so many people I’ve conversed with regarding the film are so indifferent about it.
Canadian actor Ryan Gosling (to 17-23 year old girls – ‘That guy from The Notebook’) portrays the unnamed ‘Driver’, works as a mechanic and part-time on movie stunt sets by day, while taking night work as a getaway driver for criminals for a bit of extra coinage. But after meeting neighbour Irene (the adorable Carey Mulligan) and former Hollywood movie producer Bernie; he is subsequently thrown into a whirlwind of organised crime and retribution through the goodwill nature of his actions.
Set in L.A, ‘Drive’ delivers a totally contrasted vision of what we would usually see of a modern depiction of Los Angeles. During night scenes particularly, it’s the least of all a spot for celebs or high-profile personnel – instead a seedy, dim and dangerous backdrop where organised crime is apparently King. Though it is an extremely strong attribute to the atmosphere and tone of the film’s narrative and characters alike. With an instantaneously noticeable inspiration from 80’s cinema, b-movie eras and specific works based around Vice crime and noir-style features in particular. Never thought I’d make such a comparison… Saying that, it will certainly separate the opinion of some viewers as to what the film is trying to achieve, or to who it’s trying to reach out to. Best description I could make is that it’s a love letter to some of Winding Refn’s most treasured films. Nods aplenty to Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Bullitt’ and also 90’s heist smasher ‘Heat’. The balance of Drive’s intertwining forms of retro style and technique is so sweet, so precisely formed – that it’s almost effortless and you would struggle to make an assumption otherwise.
The dialogue throughout is considerably minimal, especially on the part of Gosling – who becomes most vocal during some of the film’s more violent, or his suitably ‘assertive’ sequences. Particularly one involving a hammer, a bullet, a phone call and the eye of a crook. It’s the film’s most impacting scene – showing us the lengths that The Driver will go to. In regards to Gosling’s diminutive input, it’s something that will be more understandable towards the film’s climax. The character himself I have voiced a great deal of admiration for. Noting his way to incorporate such a compassionate and heroic nature about him, while masking a sinister, psychopathic, vulnerable soul that is unleashed on those that stand in his path of avenging the innocent and hard done by.
The support cast is headed by the previously mentioned Carey Mulligan, who portrays a single mother living across the hall from Gosling’s Driver. Her part seems to be the humanization of Driver – to show that he is skin and bones, and has a heart and a need to be wanted and cherished. There is a subtle spark between the two – most apparent in shots of the two smiling coyly at each other – Behind an honest and genuine longing for each other, though they know it could never really be. Ron Perlman, man of the moment Bryan Cranston and Taxi Driver stalwart Albert Brooks are inspired castings from Refn – Cranston again showing why he is one of the most in-demand actor’s today with a touching performance as Gosling’s mentor and friend, and Brooks carving out that niche role that only he can. With Perlman portraying a smug, self-assured mob underling attempting to make his way by stealing from his ‘Family’ – actually impressing me more than I anticipated as the film’s more prominent antagonist.
If there is one thing that gives Drive its ‘drive’, it is most certainly the musical score. Composed by Cliff Martinez, and including tracks from College and Kavinsky, the scoring is a seething mix of electro pop and 80’s themed synthesizer jams – creating an almost dreamlike state in conjunction with the aforementioned setting. Certain numbers are played to evoke certain emotions to come into play, and some also to give the audience a glimpse to understand the relationships between certain characters within the film.
I will point out, for those that haven’t seen it. This is a drama film, with a hint of action – This is not a ‘driving’ movie. The title, if I am correct, refers to The Driver character, not what he does but what he is as a person. What motivates him inside, what makes him tick, why does do what he does for such high risk? Unfortunately, it’s never really answered. The Driver has, in my opinion, become a modern-day classic movie character – they’ll be talking about this one for decades, I’m tellin’ ya.
Overall, I can not really say enough that will do this film justice. I have sat down and prepped for a review on this film for two weeks, and it’s an extremely difficult feature to review with an unbiased mind. There is a real, genuine feeling when watching that we’ve experienced something special. I implore you, to see this film with a fresh, uninterrupted and broadened mind. A picture of great depth, heart, passion and guts. What a film.