Nonetheless, what really impresses is Refn's sensibility in telling the story. Not only it is incredibly shot and skillfully put on screen by Newton Thomas Siegel (astounding cinematography), but when it comes to the bare essentials, it's impossible to conclude that the filmmaker didn't make every single possible right decision, both during shooting but also in the editing room. Those long dissolves and cross-cuttings tell more about the story that the already inexistent dialog ever would. I particularly would like to highlight a phone 'conversation' between Gosling and Carey Muligan that starts with the 'Driver' and his first few words on the left of the frame and then slowly dissolves to Mulligan on camera right attentively listening and emotionally affected while Gosling's face slowly disappears on camera left. In a very simple process, Refn puts us in touch with two people, a part from each other, people that both know their fates and there, in that moment, accept it. A particularly fantastic example of the second technic would be the final confrontation which boosts every aspect of the classic approach to storytelling in noir making it all the more effective. There are no dull or careless shots. Every piece of film fills a purpose and it's amazing to see such bravery in directing the actors by pushing them to retain their words and emotions until they reach a total state of rawness that pops from the screen as an uncomfortable glance of brilliance. In that aspect, two things can be said form Gosling's performance: 1) his eyes tell the entire story. We don't need to know his past because we can already feel it. 2) it s the characters around him that make the audience connect with his personality and therefore a change from the usual formula of having actions that make us entwined with his life.
Still regarding Refn's over-talked stylized violence I'd like to point out the intelligence in which he uses it and how poetic and operatic it becomes towards the end. Yes, it is incredibly damaging to the eyesight but also impossible to not look at. It establishes mood and intention and once it starts (quite softly) we can only expect the continuation increasing in occasions and in intensity. Nonetheless, it doesn't become a roaring rampage of mindless revenger. Refn never loses control and maintains the pace established, storytelling-wise. But the violence grows, reaches its peak and then, all of a sudden, when you'd expect a burst of blood, it carefully decreases in intensity to the point of sheer portraits of what the violence might be (i.e. final confrontation), paying, right there and then, the ultimate respect to the classic film noir (Fritz Lang comes to mind).
Drive is, in it's final instance, a strike of hope in current Hollywood: a reasonably mainstream movie that actually excels (cum laude intended) the regular standards. And in a sense of personal expectations, this may very well be a reminiscence of when Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder and so many others first came to America in the late '20s, early '30s and changed the industry with their 'mad', pessimistic and ironic European vision. And most of them embraced the truest genre (or sub-genre as Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader and others put it) in the several branches of filmmaking: noir, the only genre that actually understands the human being, the human mind and the human deepest and rooted desires and motivations.
Drive feels like the start to something else, something yet undefined but something promising.
(Read Full Review: http://cinemaismylife-fifeco.blogspot.com/2011/09/drive-operatic- noir.html)