Director: Nicholas Winding Refn
The more I watch Drive the more impressed I am with every aspect of the film, but especially the performances by Carey Mulligan and Ryan Gosling. I still think Ryan should have been nominated for his performance as Driver – he is electric! He’s at his best when playing the strong silent type. And Driver is certainly the strong silent type – in fact he’s almost monosyllabic. “In this modern noir, Ryan Gosling plays a character enigmatically known only as Driver” (930, Simon Ward, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
“Each noir staple is alive, from Bryan Cranston’s mentor/father figure, to Ron Pearlman’s loose cannon crook, and the mesmerizing Albert Brooks as mobster Bernie Rose.” (930) Gosling remains in complete control with a cold efficiency to him despite the ever-present current of rage barely concealed under the surface. He allow the action to take place around him, almost like the eye of the storm, while he watches and absorbs everything. There is something almost machine like in his preciseness which is reflected in the brilliant soundtrack. Carey Mulligan is, as usual, flawless as Irene. And the perfect partner to Gosling’s Driver. She is equally comfortable saying very little while conveying a huge amount, preferring to embrace the moment instead of filling it with idle chatter.
I stand by much of my previous review especially when I referred to it as both a family drama and a revenge story at the same time. There is that feeling pervading the film and it does manage to form a complete narrative despite the tone of the film varying. The moments between Irene and Driver have a slow, sensuous, quiet and almost dreamlike presence while the revenge elements have a frenetic energy and pace to them, in keeping with Driver’s professional driving style. “Drive lives and dies on its emotions. Director Nicholas Winding Refn as called the film a fairy tale, and this is represented by beautiful damsel in distress, Irene; her “knight in shining stuntman jacket”, Driver; and the purity of their love for each other.” (930)
“This love drives the hero to sociopathic extremes and the mixture of love and death, sensuality and violence perfectly comes together in the already-famous “elevator scene” – a hypnotic mixture of romance, tension, and head-crunching action.” (930) Their relationship is one full of longing, which ultimately remains unresolved – the one thing I would have liked the film to expand on is how their relationship turns out. Together they make an overwhelmingly absorbing couple to watch.
“Drive is constructed in a hyper reality, making it somewhat of a meta-fiction. The viewer is aware that they are watching a film, a film that hums with unashamed thrills and emotion.” (930) The sound has a more noticeable role than in other films where it can all too easily become lost to the background. This is largely due to the precise employment of the sparse dialogue and Nicholas Winding Refn’s willingness to embrace periods of silence rather than run from them.
I stand by my statement that Drive was a much worthier contender for Best Picture than Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen, 2011) – which went on to win Best Original Screenplay despite being self-indulgent drivel! If you’re a Ryan Gosling fan you should watch Drive. And even if you;re not both he (and Mulligan) give such commanding performances that they might just convert you.