A while back Ben and my sister Felicity (from now on to beknown as Philis) brought me to a late showing of Drive, a film based on the James Sallis novel of the same name. After some previewing review s from Ben’s brothers we were promised a very dark story which intrigued us boys, while the fact that Ryan Gosling was the star suited the interests my sister and the rest of the female cinema audience.
Drive dives right into the action with a slow but intense pre-credit scene involving Ryan Gosling’s unnamed character as the getaway driver for a heist job. As the scene shots are long and bulky from inside the car, the late night cat and mouse chase between Gosling and the police is effective and tense, magnifying the task that I other blockbuster would assume as easy.
In a way the rest of the movie, and particularly the first half of it, follows this theme of a simple plot that is just beautifully shot and acted. The storyline between Gosling and his love interest Irene (portrayed by Carey Mulligan) is modest and does follow a line of cliché romance but as a result of very little dialogue and good acting the characters’ desire for each comes across more charming than corny.
The technique also distracts the audience from the random eighties feel to the movie. The opening credits written in cursive neon pink to the backdrop of an amiable, girlish soundtrack makes the opening stage of the movie appear like a tribute to Dirty
Dancing or everything John Hughes.
What is most striking about this movie is the second part of the movie as it is dark, very dark. After a heist goes wrong right in front of Ryan Gosling’s protagonist he is backed into a corner and is spurred into defending himself and Irene against the mob of L.A. He unleashes some of the graphic violence in modern cinema. However contrasting to the likes of Hostel and Saw the violence in Drive almost seems necessary as Ryan Gosling’s hero antics are to protect Irene and her son. In a way it’s like a modern Jane Austin, chivalry isn’t dead but by the end it, half the cast will be.
When I look back at the movie now after a few weeks I can’t seem to find anything wrong with the movie. Every aspect of it seems to have been well done. The supporting cast sees the likes of Ron Perlman (Hellboy) getting back to playing what he does best; a villainous and unpleasant character. Bryan Cranston’s plays Shannon, a likeable rogue and Ryan Gosling’s boss. His character seems to be crossover between his two greatest TV roles; his Hal in Malcolm in the Middle and his Walter White in Breaking Bad. It’s appealing to a fan of either show but more importantly Shannon’s desire seem likeable to the rest of the cast makes up for the lack conversation of Ryan Gosling’s character and fills in the gaps of the storyline which would otherwise be lost.
If there is one thing wrong that I can find it is that for a movie called ‘Drive’ the chase scene in the middle part of the movie seems very short for what it could have been. High in the hills of L.A., a chase scene between a Mustang and Chrysler sounds mouth-watering. The choice of the cars and the roaring sounds of the cars’ engine should give the movie a Bullitt feel but it never achieves this.The very short outside shots of the cars driving try to induce the viewer’s impression of the reckless speed but instead the scene end up annoying the viewer with the constant cutting.
However this may be a result of the timing of shooting. One of the intriguing visual aspects of this movie is that the day shots seem to be set around dusk. The sun is low, shadows are elongate and actor’s faces are lit up naturally. This feature along with the choice of locations seems to reassure the viewer that L.A. can be a beautiful city. The violence of the movie of course would highlight the level of crime of the city but the scenery would do better than any Californian Tourism advert.
To wrap this review I would say that Drive is a beautifully made and portrayed movie which has all the potential to pick up next year’s Best Picture Oscar. The dark storyline along the beautiful photography and acting are so entertaining that my boyish crush on Christina Hendricks never noticed what a small role she plays. The film too has all the ingredients to expand into a franchise, something similar to what Sergio Leone made with his spaghetti westerns and their unnamed heroes. So as Ben’s brother put it to me, if you want to go see a good Ryan Gosling movie go see Drive, if you want to go see another good Ryan Gosling movie then go see Drive twice.
BEST SCENE: Ryan Gosling’s character and Irene enter a lift occupied a mob hit-man that is out for them. As they enter the lift the scene moves through a mix of emotions. From tense anxiety to sheer romantic passion and then it is suddenly ended with a dark ferocious fight, all of which take part within the confines of an elevator. Who knew a skull could collapse like that.