Title: Drive (USA, 2011) ★★★★★ (out of 5)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Date Viewed: September 16, 2011
Summary: A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
Two weeks ago, I had no idea what “Drive” was about, and the only things I knew about it were (1) Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are in it, (2) I hated that neon pink font, (Mistral, to be exact), (3) it was produced by an alumnus of my school, and (4) it was directed by Nicholas Winding Refn. Point #4 was what ultimately convinced me that yes, it must be nothing short of amazing. It was also what landed me in the midst of a rowdy crowd of movie-goers at the midnight premiere of the film. As a huge fan of Refn’s previous directorial effort, “Bronson”, I went in with high expectations, knowing that I’d be blown away.
Turns out that ‘blown away’ is too gentle of a term for what “Drive” ended up doing to me. Everything about it was amazing. The trailers do it no justice whatsoever. I was taken completely by surprise at how incredible it is. Every shot is so beautifully crafted – lighting, camera angles, timing, everything. Sound design was absolutely mind-blowing (if the Oscars were based solely on sound, “Drive” would sweep the floor with the sad asses of every other movie that has come out this year so far). The soundtrack was also beyond perfect – I’m not even into that techno house stuff, but it was brilliant and really established the 80’s reminiscence that pervades throughout the film. Even the locations were noticeably awesome – I can’t get into too much detail without giving things away, but once you watch the movie, you’ll see what I mean. I could go on for days and days about how perfectly Refn executed his vision, and it’s especially impressive considering the fact that the film was shot on a relatively low budget.
I’ve never been a huge Ryan Gosling fan, but there is no denying that he’s incredibly talented. He plays the role of a nameless driver with an air of composure and otherworldly dignity, even in the most brutally violent scenes of the film. Carey Mulligan is also mesmerizing to watch, perfectly balancing the naiveté of a wife caught up in things she doesn’t understand and the quiet elegance of a loving mother.
Yes, what you’ve been hearing is true – it’s extremely violent, arguable excessively so. Refn’s stylistic violence has drawn comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s bloody signature, but these comparisons actually bother me, because they’re so different. I am not a fan of blood and gore, but the scenes of violent nature in “Drive” were simply hypnotic.
Honestly, I have to say that “Drive” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I even ended up loving how that Mistral font fit in with everything. It’s a slick, beautifully-crafted piece that had me completely seduced from the very first frame to the last. Go see it. Seriously.