GOLD MEDAL FILM
Screenplay by Hossein Amini, from the novel by James Sallis
Produced by Michel Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker, Adam Siegel
Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman,
Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks
Running Time: 100 minutes
Academy Award Nominee - Best Sound Editing
Taking place in Los Angeles, we focus on a mysterious man otherwise known as the Driver (Ryan Gosling). The Driver works inside a garage as a mechanic for his friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston). At the same time, he moonlights as a stunt driver for movies but he also works by driving getaway cars during heists. He decides to help a neighbor whom he has gotten close to, Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband is in prison. But her husband, Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison and he is pressed by the criminal Cook (James Biberi) to rob a pawn shop. The Driver helps Standard by driving the getaway car. The plan ends up going disastrous, and now the Driver must help out Irene and her son from mobsters.
From the trailers, I would already have gotten the assumption that Drive were to be an action film which focused on driving. So I believe that it would be quite fair for a person like me to say that judging only from the marketing, I simply was just not impressed quite enough, but I did see it when it was noted that the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, earned the Best Director Award over at the Cannes Film Festival. When I did see the film, the first time I watched it I was sadly disappointed. However, I decided to go ahead and give the movie more viewings right after I became part of the Cinema Discussions group over on Facebook. More viewings ended up proving much more rewarding for a person like me, as I found the whole film to be much more to be impressed with upon each viewing.
I'm always quite intrigued to see how exactly has Nicolas Winding Refn chosen to portray violence within his films. In fact, the style which he gives to the violence somehow just makes it rather beautiful to watch on the screen. I'm not a person who would be complaining about violence inside the movies (I admit that whenever Quentin Tarantino would depict violence inside his work, I would always be laughing at the over-the-top delivery), but while it does become off-putting in some cases, there are those very rare films which somehow depict violence in such a way that it becomes one of the most mesmerizing aspects of the film. Refn's visual style just really seems to intrigue me the more I think about it. At many moments it works so perfectly in a film like Drive. But in the case of Refn's next effort, Only God Forgives, it just threw me off. I guess this was what really had thrown me off when I first watched it, but now I actually am seeing it as one aspect to Drive that makes it just so beautiful.
There's already quite a unique method of building up tension present within Drive. I will admit that when I first did look at Drive, what I did not want was excessive driving which is what I know Hollywood would want. Instead, what I wanted was incredibly well-built suspense from the beginning of the film to the very end and that was exactly what I got when I was sitting right through Drive. This whole movie is quite built up so perfectly in terms of suspense and kept me waiting till the very next scene, which I find to be one of the absolute best qualities that a film like this one can ever offer.
Who is this mysterious man and why exactly are we so fascinated with him? I find that the Driver himself is one thing that always leaves me just so intrigued by such a wondrous film. He is not given any name, and his task is already rather simple. He drives. Why are people so fascinated by this particular character? I have one simple answer to that. He is just about the most mesmerizing aspect of this beautifully violent film. Every last moment of Drive is already made so much more fascinating to watch all because of the Driver himself. As far as I'm concerned, the Driver might just as well be one of the most fascinating of movie characters that I have ever come across from this entire new decade in cinema.
And then there comes his portrayal by Ryan Gosling, a particularly talented Canadian actor of his very own kind. I was already convinced that he has a chance of becoming one of the most remarkable actors of this generation once I saw him in Ryan Fleck's excellent film of Half Nelson, for which he managed to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (losing out to Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland). Gosling's own portrayal of the Driver already gives me a pretty good feeling about seeing him in more roles in the future. Seeing Gosling play the Driver already left me to think of more "cool guy" actors from previous eras much like Steve McQueen or Clint Eastwood (both of whom this role is often compared to), which only got me to admire this performance even more. It's already quite easy to admire a role like this when so much charisma is put into the performance.
Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn handles the camera, and he won the Best Director Award over at the Cannes Film Festival for his efforts here. When I think more about how he managed to create such a mesmerizing yet graphically violent picture like this one, I'm wondering how come he was not nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for his efforts on such a film. Nicolas Winding Refn has somehow created a film in which violence is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things that could ever be shown on the screen. What exactly was it that made the Academy ignore such efforts on a truly beautiful film like this one, yet they nominated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close for Best Picture? It's a mystery I have been meaning to solve from the very beginning.
There is no possible way that I could ever describe such an experience like Drive once again. Violence on film can be difficult to watch for some, but in the case of Drive, it is quite simply just so beautiful to watch every time it is present on the screen. But then there comes the charisma of an actor like Ryan Gosling who already reminds me of the cool guys of the classic era. This here is one of those experiences that sticks right with you for its beauty. Nicolas Winding Refn has simply crafted a masterpiece that is sure to stay inside of my head for such a long time. As far as I'm concerned, Drive is just simply gorgeous from beginning to end, and one film that must not at all be missed out on.