Drive


Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn
Produced by: Michel Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker, and Adam Siegel
Written By: Hossein Amini; based on the novel Drive by James Sallis

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, and Albert Brooks
Music By: Cliff Martinez

Distributed By: FilmDistrict
Budget: $13 million
Runtime: 100 minutes

Rating: 9/10

Before seeing this movie I had seen a good bit of ads for it, and needless to say it looked pretty awesome. Sadly the week it opened up I was forced to see The Help instead, as it was required for my Music in Mulitcultural America class (I have no idea why), so I was unable to see it. The week after I was in town visiting my girlfriend and we decided to go see it since we had the night free. She had no idea what it was but she decided to see it because I really wanted to see it. A fellow Film major at Georgia State had seen it the same week I had seen The Help, and he went on and on about how good it is. His testimony was much more convincing then any commercial I’d seen, and thus I bought our tickets and stepped into the theater…

[Warning: the following contains high level spoilers! You’ve been warned!]

 

Drive’smain character goes unnamed, simply being refered to as ‘Driver’ throughout the fiilm. To sum it up he is a mechanic and a stunt driver for Hollywood movies during the day, and at night he spends his time as a getaway driver. His work as a getaway driver is anonymous, never working for the same people twice, and he only allows the criminals five minutes to get the job done. Early on in the film Driver is working a job and the police catch on to him, but he proves his skills by effortlessly evading them. Driver lives in a low rent, run down looking apartment bulding and has a neighbor named Irene who has a young son. They get to know each other through a run in at a grocery store and Driver helping Irene with her son, and soon they fall in love. The only problem is Irene is married, and her husband is just about to be released from jail. Upon his release from jail the husband reluctantly reveals to Driver that he owes protection money to a criminal named Cook, and that if Cook doesn’t get his money he’s going to come after Irene and their son. The husband also tells Driver that Cook wants him to rob a pawn shop to pay him back the money, but he doesn’t want to since he is trying to go straight. Driver, not wanting to see the girl he loves hurt, decideds to help the husband rob the pawn shop to pay back the money. The heist goes terribly wrong, and that is where the real plot of the movie kicks into gear.

Ryan Gosling’s plays the character of Driver, and for much of the film Driver says very little. There were many times when Driver would be in a conversation and not reply to the person’s comment at all. At first I found his silence iritating, but as the film rolled on it started to blend with his character perfectly. By the time Driver was helping the husband with the robbery to prevent Irene from getting hurt I had completely emmersed myself into the movie. Everything flowed perfectly from the beginning to the point where they rob the pawn shop, there was nothing to pull me from being sutured into the Drive universe. Then everything suddenly changes with the death of Irene’s husband during the pawn shop robbery. After that critical turing point in the story the film becomes inexplicably violent. Ryan’s character who up until now was portrayed as the silent nice guy, starts commiting murders-and not a single gunshot wound to the head kind of murders, but kiling people with a shower curtain rod to the neck or curbstomping their head into a bloody mush.

Intitally this level of violence was extremly offputting, mainly because it seemed to contrast so sharply with the Driver we had gotten to know in the first half of the film. Anyone who knows me well will be able to tell you that I have a severe weak stomach; I’ve nearly passed out from seeing an IV in someone’s arm on two separate occasions. This is why I don’t watch many horrror films, however I can handle violence in films like this. What bothered me was the intensity of the violence, and as I previously stated, how much it seemed to contrast with what was shown in the first half of the film. The intensity of the violence was so prevelent that it seemed to overshadow what was happening on screen, suddenly Driver was murdering people left and right and it just felt off from the first half. Once the credits rolled I was able to start forming opinions on what I had just watched and I found that the only thing I could say about the movie was “I don’t know if I liked it.” I asked my girlfriend what she thought and she initially had the same response, but she later said she just didn’t like it. She was able to put the question off about how she felt as soon as we were in the car headed home, but I wasn’t. Even now as I’m typing this I’m still forming an opinion about it. I’ve reached a point where I can say “It was really good, I liked it,” but it feels like there should be more to it then that. Drive is the only movie I can think of that has made me think this long about weather or not I liked it.

In the end I really liked Drive, there is a certain atmosphere that the film has that just pulls you in and keep the film on your mind. I saw the film a good three weeks ago and I’m still contemplating certain aspects of the film, and to me that is quite an accomplishment as that doesn’t happen often. It may have taken me roughly three weeks to appreciate the violence in Drive instead of just being shocked by it, but now that I can look at the entire film I get it. The violence isn’t there for sheer shock value; it’s there to show a gritty kind of reality of the criminal world. Sure, Drive could have gone the “cut away and leave out how gory the wound actually is” route but by not doing this we are given a kind of realism that we wouldn’t get elsewhere. While the violence does knock you out of that trance like state you get in when watching a film, you’ll be back in after the first two murders are over. Once you’re past those two you get used to seeing the violent side of Driver. If you haven’t seen Drive I highly recommend it as it is an amazing film, but at the same time I strongly suggest that you see it more then once. This review is about the conclusions I’ve reached after viewing the film and letting it soak in my mind for around three weeks. I plan on seeing Drive at least once more before it ends its theatrical run, and I’ll probably buy the DVD. So if you haven’t seen Drive, go see it; its worth the $9.50.

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