Thursday, September 15, 2011

What A Beautiful Ride


Beautifully moody, artistic, and violent -- Drive draws you in. Adapted from the novel by James SallisDrive is about a stoic and nameless driver played by Ryan Gosling. The driver lives by the mantra seen in the film's trailer: he's a man of few words, he doesn't have a backstory, and he doesn't want to be your friend. He just drives. Ryan Gosling's chilling portrayal as the driver is unassuming at first, but like this movie, he sneaks up on you.

A Hollywood stunt driver by day and a hardened criminal wheelman by night, the mysterious driver is a quiet fellow. Needless to say his profession requires it. The film starts by giving us a taste of how the driver operates. Then perhaps out of loneliness or curiosity, the driver falls in love with Irene, the single-mom next door and soon becomes a pseudo-father figure to her son. Irene is played by current "it" girl, Carey Mulligan.

Things change course when Irene's husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac) returns home from prison. Similar to the strong silent types before him (Steve McQueenLee Marvin, and Charles Bronson), Ryan Gosling's driver is surprisingly moral and just a little bit crazy, which is why he helps Irene's husband with one last job so Standard can pay off some of his prison debts. One can assume from watching the trailer that things go wrong and the driver is caught in the middle. It's the driver's response to the deteriorating situation that 'drives' the remainder of the movie.

Unlike the unassuming driver, the supporting cast is quite colorful. Funny man Albert Brooks plays Bernie, a rough and tumble former Hollywood Producer turned mobster. Ron Pearlman effortlessly plays Bernie's partner and the quintessential bad guy, Nino. Both of these guys are extremely dangerous. Bryan Cranston rounds out the cast as the driver’s down-on-his luck friend, co-conspirator, and sometimes Hollywood agent.

Rated “R” for graphic violence, Drive earns its rating. Although the driver's physical demeanor is aloof and ordinary, when threatened the driver is brutally violent and savage. Gosling carefully embodies the mercurial driver with near-perfect stoicism. It’s extremely difficult to act with little to no lines and a lesser actor could have overdone it, but Gosling's performance as the silent driver is haunting.

Unlike mainstream films, Drive’s car chases are sleek, smart, and to the point. Drive is sharply written and it doesn't take the audience for granted. Directed by Danish Director Nicholas Winding RefnDrive has generated a lot of buzz, starting at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Refn who previously directed Valhalla Rising, is known for his artistic, non-traditional, and violent style. One can tell that the director was influenced by movies like To Live and Die in L.A.Reservoir DogsL.A. Confidential, and most importantly Vanishing Point. In fact, some have hailed Drive as the next Vanishing PointVanishing Point is the ultra-hip muscle car movie of the 1970s.

The backdrop of Drive is the seedy, neon-lit Los Angeles landscape, which looks as if it's been plucked out of a by-gone era circa 1983, with tufted satin jackets, driving gloves, and aviator sunglasses. The musical score follows suit. Cliff Martinez’s pumping score is heavy on the synthesizers. There’s also a lovely unexpected tune from the 1950s called “Oh My Love,” by Katyna Ranieri.

The storyline has a vague similarity to the Transporter films, but the idea of a driver for hire is where the similarities end. Drive is a high-art crime thriller woven together seamlessly. If you can get past the violence,Drive is a must see for any art-house fan or movie enthusiast. It doesn’t hurt if you like car chases.



  1. I was surprised by the rave reviews! Think I'll see this one tomorrow.

  2. I put it on my life of stuff to check out when i have time.

  3. It opens this weekend! I'm going to try and find some time to see it.

  4. Alex-- I was surprised too. When we saw the early preview, the movie execs literally had us on lock down. They took our cell phones, searched our purses, wanded us for electronics. I've been to plenty of previews and have never had that happened. That was my first clue that this movie was something special.

    Astaroth-- Definitely worth checking out. It's one of the best films I've seen this year.

    Bonjour-- Yep, you should see it. I think you'd like it.

    Film Geek-- It's great. You're going to enjoy it. I'll have to check out your review.

  5. Had not heard much about it but will check it out.

  6. Hmm, I never would have considered watching Drive. Thanks for the review. I'll have to check it out now. :)

  7. Angry Lurker-- I think you'd really like it. If not for the driving itself.

    Laila-- I didn't think I would like either but it snuck up on me. It was very artistic.

  8. I heard awesome things about this movie. I like Ryan Gosling and indeed---I shall see this.

  9. Real Queen-- As the Real Queen of Horror, I think you're really going to like this movie.

  10. One of the best you've seen in years-and so many good reviews-maybe I should give it a chance! Was it inspired by Vanishing Point? It sounds better than Tarantino's Death Proof.
    The Ryan Gosling era-its like a few years ago when Jude Law was in every movie!

  11. Saw it last night - excellent film! Had a Michael Mann directorial style.
    Looking forward to your picks for the blogfest on Monday!

  12. Looks great! I wish I had the time to see it.

  13. Well, you persuade me!
    I see this film, as soon as possible.

  14. never heard of this movie but have not had time to see it, thanks to his review.

  15. Moviesandsongs-- It really reminded me a lot of Vanishing Point. I think the director was clearly influenced by that movie.

    Alex-- Thanks and thanks for a great blogfest.

    George-- I understand. Since awards season is gearing up, I figure I will cut back on my movie watching in January when all of the bad movies come out.

    Nick-- You definitely should. It's a great movie.

    Ricky-- It's great. I think you'll like it.

    My name...-- Sure, I hope you check out the film. It was fantastic. It may even be the best picture of the year.


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