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A Real Hero?
Drive (2011) (DVD)
Member Name: cyberem78
Drive (2011) (DVD)
Advantages: Good performances, different from the mainstream.
Disadvantages: Some moments feel 'staged' and heavily influenced by other works/artists.
I had never heard of this movie until I saw the title trending on Twitter recently. The majority of tweets mentioned how great the movie was and how it should be nominated for all sorts of industry awards. So when I got a chance to see this film I was very excited. This is a 2011 release and is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
The premise of the movie is that a stunt driver/getaway car driver/motor mechanic becomes involved in the lives of his struggling neighbours as well as a big city criminal family to whom these neighbours supposedly owe a debt. Ryan Gosling plays the unnamed lead role whilst Carey Mulligan plays his neighbour and love interest Irene. Bryan Cranston and Ron Perlman, Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and Albert Brooks have supporting roles.
When the opening sequence and credits rolled on this movie I was instantly intrigued and aware that this film was something very unique and very different from the mainstream Hollywood scene. The striking but understated opening scene was mysterious and unsettling whilst the music over the credits was just plain odd. Kavinsky's 'Nightcall' gives the film a strange retro feel and made me feel like I was in a cinema in the 1980's.
Ryan Gosling really hadn't registered on my radar prior to this movie. He's a competent, compelling actor and whilst I don't think he's physically as memorable as many other lead actors in Hollywood his style and presence makes him worthy to play the hero. His performance as the driver who never reveals his name is spotless. Despite playing a man who is mostly silent throughout the movie - a fact which might have meant his character could come across as boring, charmless or just plain stupid - he manages to hold my attention and admiration throughout.
Carey Mulligan is another actress whom I applaud in this role. She plays a downtrodden mother in this and it's not a character I would essentially link to this upper class actress. She plays it beautifully though and her connection to the protagonist is powerful.
The budding romance between the leads is something which softly bubbles under the surface whilst a story of violence and crime interweaves with it. The tentative relationship between the two leads is interesting but frustrating and the dialogue between them is barebones. Towards the second half of the film I found myself laughing out loud at scenes where there were prolonged silences and no replies to questions answered. I'm all for building atmosphere and allowing the audience space to think and to feel but I think director Nicolas Winding Refn overdoes and overplays these moody, lengthy gaps. To me, it started to feel quite silly and the spell of being in this space of artistic unreality was broken.
Towards the end of the film I was shocked at the level of violence and brutality revealed to the audience. It is suddenly explosive and gruesome with scenes of blood and gore that repulsed me but which I appreciated in a cathartic way.
I enjoyed the ambient night light scenes and driving scenes very much. The director claims this is his tribute to 'Taxi Driver' and this to me is very evident from the style and pace of the film. I did find myself noticing certain scenes though, rather than being 'in' them. For instance, the director's fondness for slow motioning scenes and for using dark, dramatic music to frame certain conversations and actions meant I could see the director's mind at work. To me it felt like I was seeing the brushstrokes of the painting rather than the masterpiece. Ultimately this left me with the sense that the director hopes to achieve a rather hip and unique style that he hasn't quite achieved by natural processes. It's as though he is forcing his art to be something that he wants it to be perhaps by borrowing too heavily from his own artistic influences, directors such as David Lynch and Quentin Tarrantino have perhaps inspired Winding Refn .
The musical score is brilliant and the use of some musical material completely alters the tone and meaning of some scenes. The Electric Youth 'Real Hero' song used at the end is laid on really thick and ends up feeling like some kind of superhero theme tune. I ended up feeling sympathy towards the central character partly due to this music video type treatment.
Ultimately it's the kind of movie that I enjoyed and that is certainly memorable although it's never going to be a favourite of mine and I wouldn't call it a classic just yet. In terms of being a cult classic it perhaps tries a little too hard to achieve this accolade. It did have it's unintentionally funny moments and as I say I felt the director was cheating a little bit in that he seemed to heavily influenced by other directors who carry the 'cool', 'quirky' and 'hip' labels.
Summary: Interesting, unique and well acted.