Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Drive (2011) - 5/5

There are numerous reasons one should see the film "Drive". Ryan Gosling is showing how impressive of an actor he is, the film is directed by one of the most interesting and best upcoming directors Refn (who gave us the modern classic "Bronson"), and quite frankly the film is just a stunner. From its opening narration and spanning camera shot to the final moments of silence on the empty road, "Drive" is a captivating film that engrosses the audience in its tale with subtlety and atmosphere. One that will have you holding your breath for long periods of time.

A young driver (Gosling) lives a rather humble life in Los Angeles. He drives stunt cars for movies part time, he works on cars in a little garage for the other part. Occasionally he works as a getaway driver for an extensive fee - but he's worth every penny. When his new found connection to a young mother (Mulligan) living down the hall suddenly gets him involved in a botched heist to get them out of trouble, the young driver must make some vicious choices with his life as it begins to all crumble around him. Ones that may shorten his lifespan significantly.

Despite its rather action film oriented plot, the beauty of "Drive" is how simple it makes everything feel. With impressively built characters and an atmosphere of tension that one can knife through (thanks to the clever and stunning work of director Refn), this film builds the excessiveness of its style in subtle ways. Our 'hero' rarely speaks through the first two-thirds of the film, most remotely with his new found love, and its many long takes of emotional eye shots are made poignant with a massively effective score that balances long spaces of silence with an oddly crafted almost dance like songs. The style of the film is as thick as it comes and it certainly adds to the rather sparse dialogue.

This leads to perhaps the film's biggest flaw - its poor marketing. Trailers showed it to be a fast paced action film when really its an atmospheric and rather depressing drama. For a film about a stunt/getaway driver - there is only a few chase scenes and the moments of intense action are cut and dry and very intense. The violence bursts through to give the atmosphere the needed break, but certainly pushes it to some extreme moments. All of which fit perfectly into the scheme of the film.

"Drive" is easily one of the best films of the year and gives my previous best film of 2011 (that being "13 Assassins") a solid run for its money. It's artistic enough to please the film connoisseurs, but intense enough to please a more general audience. Just don't go into it expecting "Gone In 60 Seconds" and you will be in for one hell of a ride with "Drive".

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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