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This high-acclaimed black noir of our era has accumulated
"best-of-the-year" momentum ever since it garnered a Best Director
honor for the Denmark prodigy Nicolas Winding Refn (from PUSH trilogy
and DRIVE is his Hollywood premier) in Cannes last year.
The film exudes a drastically visual flare almost in every scene, from its one-of-a-kind camera angle, an utterly mind-blowing hue (a mesmerizing contrast between warm orange and ruthless shadow dark). The whole script is as corny as any hacks could write with eyes shut, a point-of- no-return road for a lone hero to save his beloved woman from danger. So plot wise, the film could be a thorough disaster, and here comes our virtuoso director to rescue the film and without embellishing the content, fully showcasing his theatrical aesthetics to fend off the fatigue of the tedious characterization (a taciturn Ryan Gosling can only be beneficial to his staunchest followers, while a dainty Carey Mulligan has too little to display her faculty), among the cast, if one doesn't harbor a over-hyped expectation, Albert Brooks will be a fierily menacing discovery particularly it is creepily against his usual comedic strain.
Subtlety rules, several remarkable shots and tableaux (to wit: the hammer menace in the strip- club's dressing room, the man with a creepy musk in front of the pizzeria before the slaughter with its consequent beach hunt at night and so on) are jaw-droppingly staggering and the violence showcase is harrowingly stylistic, the elevator scene could be on a par with the Gaspar Noé's groundbreakingly grisly IRREVERSIBLE (2002). The film is going to be a classic cult not the least because of all the Oscar snubs it receives, which is confoundingly a congenial sign of its bright future both for the film itself and Mr. Refn's professional career (the latter is even more uncanny regarding the recent vicious curse upon non-American new directors' debut in Hollywood, Refn and Cary Fukunaga from JANE EYRE 2011 are the only jinx-breakers so far).
Ps. the hypnotic soundtrack is the ace, the ending-song COLLEGE'S A REAL HERO is the killing for me.
They were my exact words after getting a feel for this film.
I'll be honest; when I first read, "A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbour." I had no interest in viewing this title. I just though it would be too much like Transporter (Jason Statham)and that film bored me to tears; but, boy, was I wrong! Drive is not a movie, it's a piece of art.
My friend convinced me to watch it and I've been thanking him ever since. The film is so stylish and has such a 'noir' feel to it. Definitely the coolest film of 2011.
One thing I can guarantee is you'll be after the soundtrack once you see this film. Absolutely perfect. It is so strange, yet it works for the movie so well. Nicolas Winding Refn ceases to hypnotise me with his fantastic direction and dedication to detail. Ryan Gosling truly shows his stuff in this movie. I was so shocked by some of his actions and equally shocked by his mental threshold. His character is stone face and so mysterious, it's great; and he is, of course, supported by some fantastic actors, one definitely being Bryan Cranston... that man is a God! This is a very unique film and it can't be missed, I'm glad I changed my mind about watching it. After so many tacky flicks, this has restored my faith in cinema.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I honestly haven't a clue of where to even start with this film. It has
the dark, yet heartwarming story of classic noir films with the modern
bite and 80's synth soundtrack of tried-and-true action flicks. This is
one of those movies that will literally give you goosebumps, and that
allows you to connect with the characters on a tremendous level. The
characters in this film do not have the two dimensional, dull delivery
that is usually expected from a film of this genre. Every emotion,
every word of dialogue, every gesture is delivered with a genuine
authenticity that is nothing short of impressive, which is all credited
to the exceptional acting displayed in Drive.
Ryan Gosling's role as the "Driver" is one that will be remembered for years to come. His often somber and often mute presence is very chilling albeit showing his courage and emotional strength. He delivers more emotion in his few lines than some actors can do in an entire movie. The taboo romance that brews between him and the "damsel in distress" character Irene (portrayed by Carey Mulligan) is both heartwarming as well as heartbreaking.
The traditional "bad guy" roles, played by Ron Perlman (Nino) and Albert Brooks (Bernie Rose) are those that you would expect in a mobster film such as The Godfather or Goodfellas. Their strong, but not too campy, portrayals of mobsters are a nod to the aforementioned films.
The score for this film, composed by Cliff Martinez (whose other works include Wicker Park and Gray's Anatomy), is a stirring, ambient work of art. With nods to 80's eurosynth pop and electronica, it fits well to the overall tone of the film, which is also accompanied by similar styled songs such as "Real Hero" by College and "Nightcall" by Kavinsky, the former of which being the "theme song" of the film in a way.
Drive, being an adaptation of James Sallis' novel of the same title, is a powerful, riveting, exceptional piece of art. It may seem far fetched to some to call a movie art, but believe you me, this is art. From the moment the end credits were rolling, it has been my absolute favorite movie. Truly impressive.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wow...lucky for me this only cost 1.20 Rental...I'd feel Really annoyed if I'd actually paid to get into a theater! I'm extremely confused as to how this terrible film could possibly be rated so high on IMDb. It sucks, was one of the worse films in recent memory, I suggest watching the trailer it is masterfully made to make this abortion appear to be a worthwhile film...but don't be fooled it's not. The soundtrack is bad and apparently is simply loud in the middle of a nearly silent film (I was convinced they had some sort of contractual agreement with the lead actor limiting him to 100 words or less.) So I guess there's no real spoiler here other than to say this was a complete waste of time and energy to watch.
It's hard to describe this film with any other word than classic. It
doesn't have a retro look, but it does have a bit of a retro feel.
It also has a brilliant build up of suspense, facilitated with poignant music, insanely smooth camera work, and a perfectly subtle script. Winding Refn is becoming one of my all time favorites quickly - as is Gosling, who stuns here, speaking more words with his eyes than his mouth ever comes close to. The soundtrack, as has been said, is brilliant, although it may take some people repeat viewings to catch why.
All in all, probably the best movie going experience I had this year/
EDIT: I am upset, but not surprised that the Oscars chose to nominate emotional flubber (e.g., Incredibly Loud) over a real film, like Drive.
"Drive" is one of the years best.
Nicolas Winding Refn has taken a basic story, and injected a huge does of style and realism.
The films first 15 minutes reek of films like "To Live and Die in L.A." and "Heat". The music takes the audience on a ride from the opening credits, to the lighter moments of the film, and eventually into the meat of this violent, isolated tale.
The script is purposefully stripped to the bone to give the up-and-coming director full-artistic freedom in his biggest film to date.
The result is a smashing success; thanks in part to Ryan Gosling, who gives us a restrained, "What is he thinking", great performance as a stunt driver who isn't scared to take risks.
Gosling's character doesn't ask for a place in these people's lives, and he's anything but the a-typical Hollywood hero. The film doesn't stop for one moment of brevity.
The violence of the film balances out the slow-pacing and the lack of dialog. "Drive" moves at a realistic pace. Interaction between characters is slow, and the violence throughout the movie is fast. Gosling and Mulligan's interaction is sweet, under-stated, and brimming with hope and lust. They both have something to offer each other, but they're held back; it's just another way that Refn injects integrity into these characters without dialog or backstory. After the film, you know nearly as little about the lead characters as you did going in.
It's one of the most straight forward movies I've seen in years. The film relies on no gimmicks, and while it has all this rich style, it doesn't seem pretentious. It's gritty, but beautiful. It's heart-breaking, but uplifting at the same time.
It has other influences from all sorts of directions. I've read many Michael Mann comparisons and mentioned one above, but the film reminds me of other films like Boyz in the Hood, and the first 20 minutes of Tron Legacy. BUT, more than any other film this reminds me of Mann's "Thief" starring James Caan. I love both films.
Refn is on a short list of directors whose film's I won't miss any time soon.
You'll like this if you liked: Heat, Manhunter, To Live and Die in L.A., Blue Thunder, and A Better Tomorrow.
Drive is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and adapted to screenplay by
Hossein Amini from the novel of the same name written by James Sallis.
It stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks,
Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman. Music is by Cliff
Martinez and cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel.
Driver (Gosling) has a day job, he's a Hollywood stunt man, but by night he makes the serious cash as a getaway driver for the criminal fraternity. Into his life comes married next door neighbour Irene (Mulligan) and her little boy Benicio (Kaden Leos), pitching him right into the middle of two wars; one is for his emotional worth, the other with the criminal underworld.
Real human being, and a real hero.
They cheered at Cannes, it has garnered instant cult classic status as well as gushing critical praise, Drive is arguably the biggest surprise of 2011. Some would debate that it arrived in a year that was dominated by blockbuster brain drains and pretentious parables, meaning it wouldn't take much for something like Drive to find a favourable audience. Yet Drive is a special movie, the surprise being that it delivers a different film to what the plot synopsis suggests. There would have been many disappointed that it didn't turn out to be something akin to The Fast & The Furious 19, but as its reputation grows, one likes to think that many also had their senses tingled unexpectedly by Refn's western done out in 1980s neo noir attire.
Yes, at first glance it looks like a simple story given over to style over substance leanings, where the fact that our laconic protagonist is not prone to dialogue expansion, could lend argumentative weight to those potential dissenters only skimming the surface of the picture. But the material is in excellent hands, with Refn, Sigel, Gosling and co, calmly unravelling Amini's stripped down screenplay to reveal a gritty urban fable that's laced with ethereal overtones. A picture where a look means more than any words can express, a subtle holding of hands reveals many layers peeling, and then the serene state of play often gets punctured by bouts of shocking violence, yet always it remains a picture big on intelligence, beating a mighty heart in the process.
Propelling the picture forward is the complexity of Gosling's driver character. He has no back story for us to work from, and he gives nothing away outside of the tender bond formed with Irene and child. He is actually one of many purposeful grey areas (or should that be gris areas?) within the plot structure. We learn just enough to be on his side, a noble but flawed hero battling against fate as he fights for the innocent, he be Shane for a modern pot boiling Los Angeles. Helps, too, that he's so cool behind the wheel, where he mines Steve McQueen's effortless charisma. Refn delivers magic moments of car play, from the near ten minute opening getaway extended sequence, to a high speed kill or be killed pursuit, when the action flows it really pumps the adrenalin.
Gosling is amazing, instantly iconic, soft voice matching his soft blue eyes, toothpick perched between teeth, it's a testament to his acting ability that the requisite homages to iconic characters of movies past never veers into parody territory. It's with the calm moments that he triumphs most, be it watching TV with the boy Benicio or just gazing intensely into Irene's eyes, Gosling has a magnetic quality of some significance. Mulligan, too, is wonderful, deftly underplaying Irene to work off of Gosling to create heart aching tenderness, their chemistry superb. Isaac does fine work with the ex-con/husband character that is thankfully not stereotypical, Brooks is Colm Meaney like, thriving on simmering badness, while Cranston puts real heart into the role of Driver's garage boss, the closest thing the Driver has to a pal. The only one dimensional character lands in Perlman's court, but Perlman is such an ebullient and watchable life force the film survives the character's oafness.
From the opening pink neon credits, accompanied by the synth plink of a retro 80s soundtrack (a soundtrack so memorable it lands in the ears and stays there for days), it's evident that Refn is a man who takes his style serious. Drive is full of classy (yes arty) passages, fluid camera movements, single takes, non central framing of characters, slow motion unfurls and eye dazzling chopper shots of a neon lighted L.A., the director has an eye for the quality required to cloak his story. He of course is aided considerably by his editor Matthew Newman, and Sigel's photography. The former is dealing in seamless precision, the latter a master of shades (a lift sequence is to, ahem, die for) and colour toning delights. Marking this out as a Blu-ray essential.
You can name about ten films that Drive has been either likened too or put forward as an influence, and Refn's work here has been touted as an offspring created by Michael Mann, Walter Hill, William Friedkin and Sergio Leone (all viable and all actually high praise indeed). But rest assured, Drive is still fresh and exciting, the perfect movie package. Refn's masterpiece and one of the best films of 2011. 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You enter the movie, excited for 2011's attempt at 'Reservoir Dogs' or
'Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'. You know it's going to be
violent, but you expect that to add to the story, rather than taking
away from it.
Gosling plays a jaded stuntman, with an interesting but normal enough profession, but in a day he transforms into a cold blooded psychosomatic killer for a helpless woman whom he barely knows, without any emotional distress whatsoever. Stamping people's heads in, breaking hands with hammers; Gosling spends the whole movie drenched in blood and with a singular facial expression. To say that it is unbelievable would be the understatement of the century.
The rest of the actors are dreadfully cast, Bryan Cranston plays a helpless mechanic whose only purpose is to die a gruesome death. Carey Mulligan is a helpless (and I mean really helpless) female character who waits idly for a mysterious and overtly goodlooking man to solve her problems. Albert Brooks begins to be interesting when the story tries to explain that even the upper-middle class can be gruesome. Just as I was starting to like him, he stabs a fork in one of his suboordinate's eyes and slits his throat, just to justify the line "now you have to clean up after me".
Those one-liners are great in Die Hard 4 and other jam-packed action movies where you are watching it just for the explosions, but in a psychological thriller it becomes cliché and over the top. In fact the biggest problem with this movie is it didn't manage to correctly find a place for it's violence. There is enjoyable gore for the heck of it, see 'Hobo with a shotgun' for an example, and there is well placed and clever gore which you find in some of the better Tarantino movies or 'the clockwork orange' etc. This movie is somewhere in the middle, with sickening images clearly without purple, a sad attempt at reeling in an audience who want to seem both sophisticated but are really there for the explosion.
Overall Drive is not a great movie, and it's sad attempts to look like one just make the production all the more embarrassing.
Perhaps rating a 1 is a bit harsh, but currently it has an 8.8, and
that is simply intolerable.
Over 45 minutes into when the movie says it started, the story actually got going. During that 45 minute prelude, the main character doesn't say much, but then that's the character type. The editor/director are to blame for the horrible pacing - our protagonist says his three or four words, camera stays on him for very pregnant pause, camera switches to his muse, who doesn't say anything (or when she does it isn't much) and lingers on her for far too long, before going back to Mr. Goseling lingering on him....before he finally opens the door and leaves.
What the...?? About all it establishes is a tremendously SLOW feeling to the movie, and by the time the action arrives, it feels like it is pedestrian in its pacing.
And what a cast to be tied to this turkey. I liked each actor's portrayal of their character, (Mr. Pearlman's character is very unlikeable and is meant to be.) Christina Hendrix is sorely underused, nothing but a transition character who isn't explained terribly well...and doesn't have to be. She can do better.
Save 100 minutes of your life by not seeing this movie. Or at best, get it for $1 out of a Red Box.
I just got done watching the movie drive and could not wait to complain about it. It is the worse movie I have ever seen since the village. Twenty minutes into the movie I was ready to leave but I was expecting the action that was promise by the trailers. Knowing that I have to work tomorrow I had the nerves to stay until the movie was over. It did not make any sense, it seem like it was made back in the 70 or 80 with some new scenes. I like car movie and I expected something better, I thought this movie was going to be like transporter but it was no were near it. Everyone at the theater was very disappointed complaining as they were leaving. I would have done better throwing the money away than paying to go see it. I strongly think that you shouldn't watch it.
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