Drive is a brilliant ‘neo-noir’ centric heist film that has become an instant cult classic. Dealing with the themes of love, greed and hyper realistic violence, this film will have you hooked from start to end. The combination of a great script, incredible cinematography, brilliant acting and one of the best soundtracks that I have heard, will allow for this film to flourish in the coming years.
Ryan Gosling is absolutely brilliant as the nameless driver, with no identity and no purpose in life, the audience is already intensely curious of him. With little dialogue that he has, Gosling has to rely on his facial emotions and bodily movements to portray most of the story. In this respect he does an incredible job, whether it be showing no emotion as he is getting chanced by police around the streets of Los Angeles, as for all, he knows that he is better than them, or rather showing his psychotic angry to the audience and the characters around him whenever he kills someone. Gosling is the definition of range in this film, from the caring father like figure to the next door neighbour’s kid, or his emotionless personality whenever he is doing business to his intense need for redemption through violence, he fills the shoes of the role perfectly and it is stunning. Carey Mulligan plays the single mom neighbour of Driver, an emotional wreck of a character that does little to live up to the personality of Gosling. Mulligan does a good job with what she is given, but there just isn’t enough substance in this character to make her rememberable, which is a shame, but in her defence, it is hard to produce a high regarding, unique character when you are in the shadow of a character like Driver. Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman provide great supporting roles that compliment Gosling, in particular Albert Brooks’ character of Bernie Rose, a calmed face mobster who oozes shrewd and menacing criminality towards Driver as they find themselves working together. The characters in the film are, in essence, quite brilliant, but they are mere spotlights towards Driver, he is the star, he is the main attraction of the film, and he is the figure of art within the confines of the screen.
The story is quite excellent, in a simple way, but as it goes on the mood, tone and direction of the film change with intensity and ferocity. In the first half of the story, the audience is lead to believe that the entire movie will be based around the love interest between Driver and his next door neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and how he starts to show emotion whenever he is near her. This is a brilliant technique by director, Nicolas Winding Refn, as he portrays the characterisation through the bodily emotions, which is incredibly interesting to watch. The story quickly changes as Driver is helping Irene’s just out of jail husband pay back some of his debt that he acquired in prison through robbing a pawn shop on the edge of town. As things go wrong, the story goes from a heartwarming love story to an incredibly violent heist film, in which Driver will do anything to protect Irene and her boy, Benicio, and he does. From car chases to shootouts to intimidation techniques using a hammer, Driver’s character transforms from a calm, quiet person to a psychotic lunatic, and it is incredibly rewarding to watch. The beginning of this film is my favourite opening to any movie that I have ever seen, I won’t give it away, because I feel that you should watch it without knowing what is going to happen, but it is shot so well and the music, the hyper 80’s sync beat soundtrack, fits in, in a remarkably unique way. The hyper realistic violence that does not shy away from showing you everything can be seen as a vivid recognition of the condition of human nature, based completely on impulse, Driver’s purpose in life is revealed through the figure of Irene, everything that he does is for her, this is why this film is so good, it brings up concepts like this, human condition in such a unique way that is rare in modern day cinema.
Drive is an excellent independent film that has become an instant cult classic, filled with violence, love and greed, this film will not leave you empty handed. It is a film that will make you think what would you do if you were in the shoes of Driver, would you react on impulse as Gosling does, would you put your life on the line and do whatever needs doing in order to save the ones you love and the answer may shock you.
I give this film 9/10.