Movie Review: Drive (2011)

Drive 2011 - movie poster - Ryan Gosling in this very cool very slick American Indi film

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I went to see this last night. Normally the kind of movie you watch at one of the Arthouse cinemas here in Bristol, such as the Watershed, but decided to go to Cabot Circus due to timings.  Checked into the bar to sup a whisky before the movie: the usual barman was there and we always talk films when  I see him.  I asked him about Drive and he grinned, then said, “I don’t want to spoil it by bigging it up, but yeah…”

He also said he’d heard a few people bitching about it because it was too slow.  My turn to grin, “Right,” I said, “So it means it gives you time to soak up the atmosphere, to enjoy the scenes that have been crafted.”

I wasn’t wrong.

Great example of American indi cinema. This is movie making like it used to be: Refn shows us how it still can be

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This is a fantastic movie.

Ryan Gosling (bam! where he did come from?) creates a brooding tension with huge single-cut scenes where silence defines him, broken up by a scattering of words; a brilliant intensity of eye-contact and genuine smiles creates a growing likeability for his character – that carries you through the shockingly brutal violence that follows.

The mood of the film switches from a very slick introduction to the cold-steel nerves Gosling’s character possesses to handle the kind of criminal work he does, to ambient exploration of this bubble of his life: he’s a loner with an internal set of rules about surviving on the fringes of dangerous criminals.  The music and use of cinematography gently constructs a house of cards, an emotional framework involving people he has met – and sets in place the motivation for what he does next…

The movie then erupts into an epic trail of violence that is beyond the scope of what is required – but it works.  This is one man against many who pushes through his fear to do what must be done.

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There are no twists, no sucker-punches to the gob-smacked audience.  The conclusion is painful but wonderfully in keeping with the character of the driver and the movie.

The Director, Nicolas Winding Refn, skillfully manages to build-up layers of tension and menace in a way similar to David Lynch in his chilling “Lost Highway“.  A lot of this promise-of-dark-things-to-come is down to the soundtrack, which is phenomenal.  Did you ever watch Donnie Darko at the cinema and delight in the combination of highly emotive visuals and sounds?  Refn switches pace at the click of his fingers to bring in sweeping slow-motion where the camera trails languidly in the wake of characters moving through a moment of their life that is significant: the moment when somebody realises they are in-love; the moment before the first killing blow is made.

The scenes of driving are a pleasure to savour; Refn indulges several times in a back-seat / passenger seat view of Gosling’s character just in the frame… driving.  You see the city unfolding beyond the dashboard and the bonnet of the car.  It could be any American city late at night, until the sweeping overhead shots dramatically highlight the scale and context: this is Los Angeles.

Go see this movie whilst you can still enjoy it on the big screen.  It’s been crafted for impact, and that’s the best way you’ll get to receive the hit.

I’ll be buying the OST later today.

Trailer for Drive (2011)

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Relevant Links:

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sci-fi cyberpunk crime thriller set in post-apocalyptic world of Yellow Dawn - Dog Eat Dog by British author David J Rodger

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