Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Hossein Amini
Based On: “Drive” (Book) By: James Sallis
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 100 minutes
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
USA Release: 9/16/2011
On DVD (USA): 1/31/2012
Awards: 1 Academy Award Nomination, 4 BAFTA Award Nominations, 1 Golden Globe Nomination
An awesome feat of cinematic genius that takes old style B-Movies and Film-Noir and brings it to a bigger audience. Between it’s story, cast, cinematography, score, and crew “Drive” is a masterpiece that will win audiences over with everything it has to offer. It is among one of the best films of the year because of the stunningly visual piece of art it brings to the big screen.
In “Drive” we follow Driver (Ryan Gosling) an unnamed mechanic working in Shannon’s (Bryan Cranston) garage, Shannon who also manages him gets him extra work as a stunt driver and also as a wheelman. As the story follows we see in the beginning Driver’s skills behind the wheel as he helps two robbers evade the police. With that skill Shannon has been trying to get Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) to provide backing so that he can buy a NASCAR racecar for Driver to drive. And after Bernie witnesses Driver’s skill on the track he agrees to back them. Around this time, Driver has become involved with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos) after her car breaks down and Shannon offers Driver’s services to drive them around. Slowly they start to become more romantic, when suddenly her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns home from prison. Later after Standard gets beat up because of the “protection” money he owes, Driver offers to help so as to protect Irene and Benicio from the danger that has been threaten on them.
After the buzz “Drive” got at this years Cannes, many critics including myself got excited and began waiting for this date to arrive, and thankfully this did not disappoint one bit. Nicolas Winding Refn does some awesome directing, but that isn’t a surprise to those that have been following his career, I on the other hand am very new to his work with this being my first film of his, but I’m definitely going to look back at his previous works. Refn has great style that separates him from many directors, and also makes “Drive” really stand out because of it’s 80’s style backdrop and Film Noir/B-Movie story. Like Refn, Hossein Amini who penned this adaptation of the 2005 Novel of the same name by James Sallis, did a fantastic job of telling us this story. This surprisingly has a little bit of everything thing, drama, romance, action, even some cheesy b-movie gore. Along with that there are many silent moments throughout the film that relies on feeling the emotions through the actors presence rather than with dialogue, much like some scenes in “Beginners”. With that combined with the previous things I said, you can see how there is really never a dull moment as something new and sometimes unexpected is coming across the screen. Now many have compared this to movies like “The Stuntman”, “The Driver” and “Thief”, but at this present time I have not seen any of these there for I can make no comparison to them, but I am going to check them out. Anyways like you will hear me say many times this is just a brilliantly put together production, and the cinematography is another thing to add to the list. Newton Thomas Sigel did a sometime jaw dropping job with the cinematography because of the cool looks and color it gave the film. Throughout the film we see many parts of the city sometime with a very nice and sleek aerial shot at night where we see all of the lights and cars. His style was all his own, using wide-angle lenses and rigging instead of handheld. He also smartly set up the car chase scenes that used the same system that “Seabiscuit” used, keeping with the smooth and sleek feel of the film itself. The score also played with the 80’s like backdrop using techno music throughout. Cliff Martinez who also did the score of the recently released “Contagion” uses the same style that can be seen in that film as well. His use of techno works better in “Drive” than in “Contagion” as the movie feels more that way to begin with. Along with the score is a handful of songs that also are in the techno fashion and work really well in the film along with the score.
As for the cast Christina Hendricks and Oscar Isaac both do a great job respectively although their roles are fairly small especially that of Hendricks. Ron Perlman, like Hendricks and Isaac also does well being crude and sometimes unsettling, there is something just weird about his character that you never know what he is going to do or say. Albert Brooks is almost completely unrecognizable playing in one of his very few dramatic roles. Brooks does a superb job as Bernie Rose who is a guy that you want to stay on the good side of. Although calm and seemingly non threatening looking he can still be your worst nightmare. Bryan Cranston (who also can be seen in “Contagion”) does great in a surprisingly minimal way as Shannon. It’s hard to tell if Driver really trust him, but it seems he does at least a little to let him manage him. And even with his bad luck that never stops him from coming up with another scheme. As for Carey Mulligan she is great as always, and also has wonderful chemistry with Gosling. Like I said before Mulligan is one of the characters that has some of the quiet moments that relies totally on what you see come across her face, one scene in particular that really shows it is when she goes completely catatonic as the police are talking to her. Now don’t worry I didn’t forget the star, Ryan Gosling is just brilliant as Driver. He hardly shows his emotions and is always playing it cool with this it doesn’t faze me attitude, except when he is with Mulligan’s character. There he begins to show maybe his true self, a kind of guy that is sweet and sensitive. He hides the fact that given the situation he can have a very short temper and almost become sadistic. Gosling’s portrayal was just something that really showcases his talent, like it did in “Blue Valentine”. He does well with whatever you throw his way, whether it be action, drama, romance, comedy, he is just a very well rounded actor.
To sum up, “Drive” is one of the films that will become a classic if given the chance, with it’s use of styles from different genres and eras it brings back something the industry hasn’t had in a while. It showcases the talents of it’s cast, especially that of Gosling, who plays the roles with all the ease in the world. It’s a film that everyone should check out because of it’s great and interesting story that with the added visuals from the cinematography will have you in love with this from start to finish. So if it’s in a theater near you, definitely check this out, you won’t be sorry.