RYAN GOSLING   CAREY MULLIGAN   ALBERT BROOKS  RON PEARLMAN

Drive

If there was ever a doubt that brutal, stylized violence could be absolutely gorgeous on screen, Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn removes that doubt with his new film Drive. Refn nabbed attention at Cannes this year when he took home the best director prize. And since Ryan Gosling is the man of the year, this is a beautiful collaboration. Not since David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence have we seen violence portrayed so honestly and boldly. Gosling was the only person who could have elevated this role to it's near perfect existence. With everything from the Miami style, fuchsia colored credits to the retro fitted musical choice and those squeaky leather driving gloves, Drive delivers in a way most action suspense films could never dream of.

By day, Driver (Gosling) is a stuntman for Hollywood films when he isn’t working underneath greasy cars. He moonlights as an escape driver: “If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window; anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down; I don't carry a gun... I drive.” Living next door is Irene (Mulligan), whose husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) was just released from prison. Driver has taken a liking to Irene and her son Benicio. In an attempt to help Standard get some bad people off his back, he agrees to drive for him, but gets into a mess that only his driving skills and brutal rage can clean up.

Yes, there is fantastic violence, a suspenseful story, and fascinating characters; but it’s the presentation of Drive that is really on display. I am reminded of Panic Room or Road to Perdition, films that were more about the look and feel of the film than the actual story. Gosling’s pitch perfect performance, with such little dialogue, elevates this entire production to an addicting level. He gives one of the best performances of the year in one of the best films of the year. One of his most intense scenes occurs when he has a man pinned to the floor, but the camera looks up at his gridlocked stare, the vibration of the intensity running through his entire body and the sweat dripping down his chin. Gosling goes to a place in this film that few actors ever find.

Films like Drive really rely on the technical elements to flex every ounce of muscle and that is seen in the sound editing among other places. Never have we heard such a grueling representation of a skull being crushed. Top marks to the film’s editor as well, whose style sticks with the retro feel of the film. The once famous comedian Albert Brooks delivers one of his career's best performances in a role that isn’t unlike William Hurt in A History of Violence. The screenplay is one that never gives the viewer a sense of what corner it is about to turn and there is constant surprise at every corner. There are a handful of scenes that should keep audiences talking long after this film credits roll.


 Final Thought –One of the years’ best looking films, Gosling is in a league of his own.

Grade A-

By: Dustin Chase W.    Editor: Michael Woody


Dr. Donna Copeland’s

2nd OPINION

Much of the success of this fast moving tale is attributable to the mesmerizing performance of its star, Ryan Gosling playing the role of Driver.  His reticence followed by exquisite timing lends mystery not only to his character, but also to surprise action in many scenes.  To some extent his co-star Carey Mulligan (Irene) is similar, and their scenes together are noteworthy for the long silences that convey intimate connection.  The cinematography, lighting and music contribute to the surreal quality of the film, which is punctuated by extreme violence and bloodiness.  It reminded me of Pulp Fiction and movies of the same genre that followed it with over-the-top violence that provokes laughter and cheering, humorous but scary scenes of the underworld, and of course the required car chases.  The Danish director of “Driver”, Nicolas Winding Refn well deserves the Best Director award he received at Cannes earlier this year.

 Within the life-threatening gruesome story, is the sweet relationship between Driver and Irene and her son Benecio, played by Kaden Leos.  They go on rides in the country, play by a stream, and quietly watch TV—until Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) returns from prison.  When Driver agrees to help him out with a post-prison debt, the idyll ends, and Driver is called upon to defend not only himself but the family he’s grown close to as well.

 The main character, Driver, is an intriguing figure with a clear sense of honor that is hard to mesh with our introduction to him as a driver for crime.  

Are we to believe that his honorable actions during most of the film were instead based on his attraction/love for Irene and Benecio?  When he leaves the contents of the bag behind in the parking lot in the last scene, what does that say about him?  To the end, he is an enigmatic character.

 This film is a very fine crafted piece of work.