Adapted from James Sallis’s 2005 novel, “Drive” is not for the faint of heart. Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s film is a violent and surreal tone poem influenced by Steve McQueen’s “Bulitt” and the work of Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.
The Driver (Ryan Gosling), who remains unnamed throughout the film, works at a garage, picks up occasional stunt driving work, and moonlights as a getaway driver. Gosling’s character is someone who has a purpose, excels at something and makes no apologies for it.
The Driver becomes involved with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). Driver and Irene appear to be slowly developing a romantic connection when her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), comes home from prison. He is then involved in a heist that goes horribly wrong that puts Irene and Benicio in danger, sending the Driver on a one-man mission to stop their pursuers.
Seems the majority of the staff here didn’t quite know what to think of the film, but Adam loved what he saw.
Adam Frazier : Gosling’s performance is nothing short of brilliant – whether he’s driving at breakneck speed or simply sitting at a dinner table with Carey Mulligan, he is never less than riveting.
“Drive” is an exhilarating piece of cinema that will startle mainstream audiences at multiplexes – moments of shocking violence and brutality were met with nervous laughter as people simply couldn’t accept what they were watching.
We’re all desensitized to violence because we’ve come to expect it, but the moments in “Drive” are always unexpected. This is a film that mainstream audiences don’t deserve to see, honestly.
It’s becoming more and more apparent most moviegoers don’t know how to conduct themselves when watching a real piece of cinema — they’ve been spoon-fed the same tripe time and time again that they’ve become ADD in their need for constant stimulation and instant gratification.
This is not “Fast and the Furious” or “Gone in 60 Seconds” — it isn’t meant to be a summer thrill-ride. Rather it is a poetic, entrancing experience that refuses to give in to cliches and mainstream impulses.
While the film is getting a wide release, I would recommend finding a small, out of the way theater and going to enjoy this film in the middle of the day, away from the idiots who spend their two hours in the dark chomping on popcorn and slurping away at 64 oz. sodas.
A brilliant film with impeccable direction and pacing, a fantastic ensemble of actors and an amazing soundtrack, “Drive” is easily one of my favorite films of the year and stands as a breakout performance for Ryan Gosling, who is no doubt Hollywood’s new leading man.
Katie Crocker : The movie flip flops back and forth, the first thirty minutes show Driver, a mechanic, moonlighting as a Hollywood stunt man turned getaway driver who begins a relationship with his next door neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son despite his obvious brooding, introverted personality.
This kicks into a little action, as Driver decides to help Irene’s husband get out of some debt owed, he serves as the getaway car in a robbery, only agreeing in order to protect Irene and her son. After the heist goes wrong, and Driver discovers that a contract has been put out on him he goes in for the thirty minute killing spree in order to keep Irene and her son safe.
At one point in the film Albert Brooks delivers a line that almost explains the cluster fuck itself, “out of all the robberies that happen in L.A. this one has to involve Driver?” If the actor is questioning it, on screen, so am I.
This movie couldn’t decide what it wanted to be.
Is this a character study?? A thriller? An Action, a heist or a mob movie? A quiet joy ride with Gosling as we admire his talent behind the wheel and troubled past? I’m not sure and clearly, neither was the Director. The big disappointment was the temperature of the film, which changes suddenly and erratically, never quite deciding where it wants to land and ultimately comes out tepid. It never managed to blend into one overall tone.
This was all made worse by the bad synth pop music which ruined almost any possible moment, from tension to romance. It didn’t help much that they used the same damn bad snyth pop song multiple times. I almost had the song memorized by end credits. (Although that wasn’t too hard, considering there were only two lines to the whole damn song)
Another problem I had was with the cinematography, either thrown in to show off or “look cool” with low angle driving shots and repetitive, still, tight shots of Driver and Irene as they stood staring at one other, waiting for the other to show that they cared. This would be ok, for a certain kind of flick… not this one. Each shot should heighten the emotion the director or actor is trying to convey; it shouldn’t be the focal point. Good cinematography shouldn’t even be detectable, it should just work.
The redeeming quality here is the actors, as usual, Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston (really loved his performance) and Albert Brooks all pull through with their characters, delivering stellar performances and managed to carry the film through some muddled, confusing and awkward scenes. They were the best damn thing about the film.
But, in the end, this movie has all kind of flavors. The only problem is you can’t mix mayonnaise with peanut butter, it just tastes like shit.
Mike Smith : Winner of the Best Director prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Drive” is a stylish film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a thriller? A romance? A heist film? All of the above? To be honest, I really don’t know. Though based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis, “Drive” has very little dialogue. The majority of the story is told through camera angles and a musical score that seems to have been composed in 1985. Gosling is serviceable here but he’s not given much of a back story – why does he do what he does? All he does is squint, talk softly and resemble a very young Christoph Waltz? He also spends his time constantly clenching his hand menacingly. As the mom next store, Mulligan is fine. Brooks, who I have followed since he started submitting short films on “Saturday Night Live” in the 70s does a good job as a bad guy, a role he’s also played in “The Simpson’s Movie.” Perlman is suitably evil and it’s always nice to see Russ Tamblyn (Riff in “West Side Story”) on the big screen. This is the good part.
I’m still confused as to what story director Refn wanted to tell. There are some fine chase scenes – perhaps an homage to Peter Yates’ “Bullitt” or William Friedkins’ “The French Connection” or “To Live and Die in L.A.” But there are also a lot of moody close ups accompanied by bad songs right out of 1985 – perhaps an homage to John Hughes? And there’s an awful lot of blood – props to Quentin Tarantino? This is the bad part.
I won’t deny that Renf has a way with a camera and, since I don’t know what his competition was, I will assume that he WAS the best director at Cannes this year. But slow motion action and gallons of blood do not a great film make. In this case, it only makes an average one.