The coolest film of the decade - Hanley
“I give you a five-minute window. Anything happens either side of that window and you're on your own.” Straight away Ryan Gosling's nameless 'Driver' sums up his character in a film that takes a somewhat unoriginal storyline and throws it into the world of art house neo-noir with the likes of Black Rain and Brick.
Stuntman by day, wheelman by night, a nameless driver (Ryan Gosling) ends up falling in love with his beautiful married neighbour (Carey Mulligan). When her husband gets out of prison and their family is threatened by gangsters, the driver lends a helping hand only to get himself caught in a risky situation involving some dangerous criminals.
Drive takes its sweet time kicking off, a first act almost completely devoid of dialogue where communication is body language, more similar to real life than most movies get. Alas, don't think this means a lack of entertainment, the opening scene in which 'Driver' plays wheelman for two thieves as the twinkling lights of Los Angeles contrast the darkened streets is one of the most exhilarating and well-written introductions in the past few years. Drive intentionally contains little vehicular action, staying true to director Nicolas Winding Refn's idea that it entails more what drives us as people rather than what we drive. Yet funnily enough, Drive does in ten minutes what The Fast and the Furious couldn't do in six instalments. Long story short, within the first five minutes you'll know whether this is the film you thought it would be.
Winding Refn realised what film drive was after listening to REO Speedwagon while delusional with illness. To most, that will seem a strange story but after watching what he and Gosling put together, it couldn't make more sense. Drive's electric soundtrack features an assortment of pulsing disco music reminiscent of what would be heard in an updated Scarface or Escape from New York. Cliff Martinez does an excellent job of complimenting the film and defining the world the character of 'Driver' lives in, a world of depth, realism and ultra-violence where beauty is scraped off the bottom of your boot.
The casting is as close to perfection as it can get. Whilst Gosling was attached before Winding Refn (and chose him as director), the talents of Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks, while not having much to do, are as phenomenal backing dancers to Gosling's one-of-a-kind performance. After several roles that garnered him vast critical acclaim, 'Driver' is the character he was born to play, bringing 'cool' to new levels all the while making Tyler Durden look like a weeping infant. 'Driver' is enigmatic and intense, and Gosling manages to play him in a bold but humble manner.
If any criticisms will be made, they'll be of the 'Driver'/Irene relationship. The majority of his scenes with love interest Irene contain inaudible speech. This is done on purpose, left to retain the beginning of their relationship between the two characters. This is as personal love stories get. As classy a style choice this is, Gosling's character is so compelling we just want more. We want to squeeze every attribute but are left craving. This is, once again, brilliant filmmaking from the director.
Drive is slow yet exhilarating. It's brutal yet romantic. Drive is all these things and many more but above all else, a film that is as rare as it is talented. Beautifully shot, engagingly scored and captivatingly acted. This film is exceptional in every sense of the word.
Review published on the 28 September 2011 06:56
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