I'm not big fan of Hollywood cinema; they tend to make the same film over and over again. The formula works and many enjoy it, but I want to see something different; something that will make me think.
Then another friend said, "Did you see DRIVE? It's not an action movie." Well, now I had to see it; not because it wasn't an action movie but because I was curious to see what my friends thought I would like in a movie.
This sequence though had more going on. The addition of the basketball game made me think that the driver is interested in sports. It turned out that his timing needed to synchronize with the game’s finish since it was his plan to escape into the crowd. The calm way he eluded the cops was brilliant. The sequence worked also because of the choice of the get away car: Chevy Impala.
You don't see mindless "Fast and furious" muscle driving but instead see virtuoso in the City of Angel’s streets. The Ryan Gosling character doesn't have a name because he is a loner, changing his cell phone and residence after every heist. He can't afford a companion because he functions best alone. Irene, played by Carey Mulligan, captures his attention and like a real neo noir character she is not his ticket out of the melancholy existence but rather a slow ride downhill. The night shots of the city's exuberant masculine melancholy reminded me of Michael Mann's "Collateral." The softness of the dialogue between Driver and Irene, enhanced by the long pauses between responses, shows the characters en-prisoned by the emptiness of their own existence, and at the same time made me feel naked and disarmed.
The supporting cast is outstanding, especially Mr. Brooks, and that leads me to the part of the movie that I liked the least - the violence. Refn is known for his love of blood and even though "Drive" didn't have too much of it I though the violent scenes were extreme in their brutality, which increases as the film goes on. On the other hand the violent scenes contrasted so intensely with the 'family' scenes that I accepted them. Another amazing contrast, which was well executed, was between the 'sexless' love scenes between the leading characters (they kissed only once). As well as the strip club scene, where the beautiful, naked women sat around like mannequins, emphasized by their reflections in the mirrors, acknowledging, but yet not scared by the violence going on in front of them.
"Drive" is a neo noir film - man and car, just like "Taxi Driver" minus the guns, a stunning visual style worthy of Michael Mann, plus contemporary Tarantino's violence. Even though the characters do not go through major moral dilemmas and evolve, I say see it - it’s different and if you like different you will like it.
4 / 5
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Staring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston