‘Drive’ Film Review
Drive, a slick L.A. set heist film starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Albert Brookes. Set in the City of Angeles, Drive is a story about an unnamed driver (Ryan Gosling), who takes a wrong turn and is set up during a job he offers to complete in order to help his friends husband. With one million dollars of some gangsters money, the driver’s efforts to return the money without any repercussions soon becomes a distant memory as he is hunted down by gangsters.
Upon the film’s release, it received critical acclaim, and was given a score of 8.2/10 by review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, making it a ‘certified fresh’. Despite this however, some reviewers have come to question the films integrity to the original story by James Sallis, also called ‘Drive’. Peter Bradshaw, a reviewer for the Guardian, said: “Drive is a movie with power but is still directionless; the acceleration is great, but the steering needs looking at” – perhaps, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Drive is a film that had been on the table since 2008, originally planned as a Hollywood blockbuster which was set to be directed by Neill Marshall and star Hugh Jackman… I know, can you imagine? However, by 2010, Ryan Gosling was in the driver’s seat, armed with his own choice of director. He chose Danish filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn (Pusher Trilogy, Bronson) to direct the film, who was more interested in the concept of The Driver having a split personality (stuntman by day, getaway driver by night) than the story itself.
Together, Gosling and Refn drove around the city of Los Angeles at night, finding the locations for the film. When Refn moved to Los Angeles to make the film, he requested that the cast move in to his home, and that the editing suite must also be there. With the concept ready, filming began in September 2010, leading to a September 2011 release.
I watched this film not long after its release date, and at first, I couldn’t figure out what to think. My expectations for this film were high; high enough to make the film feel worse than it is which didn’t help. Unlike quite a few other people, the trailer for ‘Drive’ hadn’t led me to the conclusion that the film is going to be another car racing action film along the lines of The Fast and the Furious. I knew what I was in for, an arthouse indie flick that would appeal only to those that had seen films outside of Hollywood. I also knew that Drive was going to be a unique film, a film that would break the conventions of the genre it is rudely placed in, and create a genre of its own.
We start with Goslings performance in the beginning of the film, where he is showing how is character, Driver, works. These first ten minutes are what will get you glued to the film; from here on out, it has your total undivided attention. The Driver has his five minutes, he outsmarts the police and finishes his job effortlessly, leaving the car and going home the moment it’s parked. Then comes the opening credits: A 1980s style montage with music by Kavinsky, featuring the Driver doing what he does best through the dark streets of Los Angeles… Driving.
Gosling’s performance as the quiet Driver is what made the character so loveable. Despite his flaws, mainly being that beneath his soft and quiet exterior, he is a brutal and strong man who would stop at nothing to get the job done; you can’t help but fall in love with Goslings portrayal of the mysterious Driver. He is the true definition of an antihero, a type of character that most audiences love.
The film then moves onto the introduction of Carey Mulligan’s sweet character, Irene, the Driver’s romantic interest in the film. Mulligan gives an outstanding performance, her portrayal of Irene, a single mother with a 7 year old son and a husband in jail is perfect and believable. You are mesmerized by Irene; you admire her and her calm attitude towards everything. She not only handles her own life well, but also her husbands, and manages to tame the mysterious Driver too.
As the story plays out, the films slow and relaxed narrative becomes more action packed and fierce. The angering of the mob, the death of several characters and the intensity of the Driver’s situation, all add to the Driver’s character, which has gone from being the calm man in the beginning, to being the merciless man who will stop at nothing to protect the ones he loves.
Armed with fantastic cinematography, unique dialogue and lovable characters, this film is good. However, with an extraordinary cast, extremely talented director and fantastic mise-en-scene, this film is perfect. I highly recommend this film; don’t let the few bad reviews cloud your judgement of this film. It is something that can easily be misunderstood, which is what lets it down. Apart from that, unbelievable piece of cinema – a must watch.
Original Date of Review: November 2011