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Drive (2011)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Starring:
Ryan Gosling/Driver
Carey Mulligan/Irene
Albert Brooks/Bernie
Ron Perlman/Nino
PLOT-CRUNCH
A stunt driver (Gosling) with a mucho cool Scorpion design jacket, moonlights as a get-away driver and also works at a garage for dick pay (man likes to keep busy). He eventually misses a beat, follows his heart, takes the wrong gig for the right reasons and then suffers the consequences.
THE LOWDOWN
Initially DRIVE (based on James Sallis' 2005 novel) was to be directed by Neil Marshall and starring Hugh Jackman... yeah no shit. It was gonna be a blockbuster type of project. If that would have been the case, I am pretty sure I would have gotten a straight forward thriller; the one I'd expect when reading the plot line above. But the Gods of Cinema had something else in mind and struck that shit down, pulled Ryan Gosling into the mix (who has taken the art road instead of the cash path with his career... respect), who in turn got one of the most exciting directors of our time Nicolas Winding Refn on board. With both lads at the wheel; DRIVE wound up being anything but obvious. And that's what I so loved about it; it took the familiar, spun its wheels and did its own novel thing with it.

One of the film's key strengths in my opinion was that the dialogue was at a minimum, with Refn slyly using eclectic music, potent silences and his arresting imagery to convey information and emotion. Yes, milking the visual medium that cinema is at its core... till the last drop. Awesome! That knack was relevant as to its lead hero of Driver (he has no name) as well. The lad challenged Kurt Russell in SOLDIER as the hero with the less lines (I think he beats him). And damn was Gosling on top of his game! His haunted eyes, the smiles that would sometime surface and his body language spelled it all for me; hence putting out an hypnotic show fueled on the organic. Dude floored me! Same went for the rest of the performers. Word has it that Refn didn't cast actors by way of the regular process (auditions, reels); he had them meet him at his house instead to chit and motherf*cking chat. Well I guess that worked out swell cause the cast here was BEYOND solid! Carey "sad green eyes I got lost in" Mulligan made me fall in love with her character of Irene and the often unspoken chemistry she shared with Gosling melted the screen till it became goo. It was poignant and beautiful to say the least. On his end Albert Brooks was charismatic, hence very frightening when the time came while Ron Perlman had a blast with his angry Jewish gent, acting Italian role. It should be said that even the smaller characters were given further nuances. By the script yes; but also via the talent of "the great" Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac (who had what could have been a despicable role, but it didn't go down that way... very nice) and the lovely Christina Hendricks. They all owned it and helped layer what was an already “full” film.

On a visual standpoint Refn put out a mostly elegant looking picture that sometimes took the gritty highway. The man gunned out smooth push ins/travelings, a powerful use of slow motion, mood that evoked Michael Mann's old crime films (loved the Miami Vice like opening credits) and surreal lighting touches that screamed David Lynch at me. He also displayed an array of visceral artistic choices that upped the power of the picture. Like always giving us the “heist” sequences from the Driver's perspective, or inter-cutting two scenes that follow each other but doing so out of sequence or my favorite being time slowing down for a moment to shine i.e. for us to relish in it fully. It was those random brush strokes to the canvas throughout (among so many other things) that helped elevate the film far and above its familiar initial premise. And then there was the violence on hand which often brilliantly clashed with the polished look of the picture. When it got time to get dirty; it did so in a sucker punch fashion; now you're safe, now you just got your ass kicked by extreme violence. Art house became quasi Grindhouse... like that! No, LIKE THAT! Finally there was the love story; a Romeo and Juliet type of forbidden romance, at times conveyed in the same way they did in them 80's romantic flicks like Pretty in Pink; with a montage and a pop song about love booming about (in this case it was Under Your Spell by Desire and my fav, A Real Hero by College & Electric Youth). And you know what? With the wonderful work Gosling and Mulligan did together acting as its base; the ploy worked and the bits gelled effortlessly with the rest of the flick. Amazing!

Add to all that class; a handful of well shot and enthralling car chases, tension galore, a melancholic and dream-ish score by Cliff Martinez that drew from the 80's Crime Thriller synthesizer phase and at times from the Angelo Badalamenti well (I haven't seen a movie use music this well since...I can't remember) and a couple of heart wrenching moments that snapped my heart strings and you get a poetic, fairly existential and gleefully retro masterpiece. Any negatives? NO! I don't have one damn thing bad to say about this one. All love baby! All love! Drive was just that astounding. SEE IT!

NOTE: I was so overwhelmed by this movie that I had a hard time verbalizing this review. So forgive me if it doesn't give the movie justice. Sometimes art "is" and no words can really match its essence. Drive was one of them times for me.
GORE
We get bloody gun-shot wounds and at least 3 gore howlers that I won't spoil for you here. But trust me, they hit the spot!
T & A
We get countless and oh so lovely titties in a Strip Club back-room.
BOTTOM LINE
It's Driver (1978) meets Michael Mann by way of David Lynch! DRIVE had the initial premise of an action film, the visuals of an art film mixed in with a retro crime drama, the brutality of a Grindhouse party, the creative chess moves of an auteur piece and the heart of a classic like Romeo and Juliet if shot in the 80's. It used music to its advantage like no other has in a long time and all of its elements came together gracefully to make one hell of a rewarding package! Ryan Gosling was the definition of cool come to life as the man with no name and little words and so was Carey Mulligan and the rest of the stand out cast. During this watch, I was on edge, I was riled up, I was back-handed, I was entranced, I was smiling and I was moved. Thank you to all involved for this wonderful piece of cinema. Although the year is not over, I doubt any film coming up will top DRIVE as my number one of 2011! Yes I worshiped it that much!
BULL'S EYE
Nicolas Winding Refn got some head-bashing advice from Gaspar Noé who mastered the art in Irréversible (2002).

Nicolas Winding Refn dedicates Drive to filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.

Drive's opening credits song "Nightcall" is by French electronic musician Kavinsky while the elevator song is Brian Eno's "An Ending (Ascent)"

The assistant editor on DRIVE (Michael Nouryeh); was the lead editor on my short film The Red Hours. Yeah! I got a DRIVE connection!

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10:07PM on 10/19/2011
Albert Brooks was amazing in this movie showing a dark side that we've never seen in him before. The Academy would be nuts not to nominate him for Best Supporting Actor.
Albert Brooks was amazing in this movie showing a dark side that we've never seen in him before. The Academy would be nuts not to nominate him for Best Supporting Actor.
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3:22PM on 10/05/2011

The fucking soundtrack makes it alone!

This film outstanding,Like Taxi driver/King of the Ants meets David Lynch.
A gorgeous film.
This film outstanding,Like Taxi driver/King of the Ants meets David Lynch.
A gorgeous film.
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+0
9:39PM on 10/04/2011

VERY GOOD but ...

I REALLY liked this flick and it reminded me a bit of Pulp Fiction (takes too long to say why) BUT I cannot put it on the same plane as the two best of the year being Rise of Planet of the Apes and X-Men First Class with a nod to Super 8 (I know ... apples and oranges to some extent).
However, this film deserves our support!
I REALLY liked this flick and it reminded me a bit of Pulp Fiction (takes too long to say why) BUT I cannot put it on the same plane as the two best of the year being Rise of Planet of the Apes and X-Men First Class with a nod to Super 8 (I know ... apples and oranges to some extent).
However, this film deserves our support!
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+0
10:52AM on 09/30/2011
4/4 An amazing film , couldn't agree more. Everything worked .Magic.
4/4 An amazing film , couldn't agree more. Everything worked .Magic.
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1:14AM on 09/30/2011

Odd one out!

I really like some aspects of the movie but in some respects I wasnt blown away as I feel i should have been. I wasnt in love with the ending and if Im honest the long drawn out scenes of Driver saying nothing began to grate on me a little. I had the same response when watching Vallhala Rising maybe I just dont click all that much with the director, as even Let the Right One In was nothing special for me. It must be me?
I really like some aspects of the movie but in some respects I wasnt blown away as I feel i should have been. I wasnt in love with the ending and if Im honest the long drawn out scenes of Driver saying nothing began to grate on me a little. I had the same response when watching Vallhala Rising maybe I just dont click all that much with the director, as even Let the Right One In was nothing special for me. It must be me?
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7:47PM on 09/29/2011
It's funny that you mentioned David Lynch in this review because Lynch is exactly who came to my mind while watching this film on opening day.

There were some things that I did not like about this film - even had a couple of WTF moments, but one of the things I did like was its [link] hard to verbalize indeed.
It's funny that you mentioned David Lynch in this review because Lynch is exactly who came to my mind while watching this film on opening day.

There were some things that I did not like about this film - even had a couple of WTF moments, but one of the things I did like was its [link] hard to verbalize indeed.
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7:35PM on 09/29/2011

Loved the film

One of my tops for 2011
One of my tops for 2011
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6:57PM on 09/29/2011
I agree 100% such a wicked movie
I agree 100% such a wicked movie
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2:30PM on 09/29/2011
Arrow, you verbalized this about as well as one could hope for. It is such a visual/audial feast describing it is hard for me, on account of it's not the story, but the execution, that makes it work. Definitely my favorite of the year so far.
Arrow, you verbalized this about as well as one could hope for. It is such a visual/audial feast describing it is hard for me, on account of it's not the story, but the execution, that makes it work. Definitely my favorite of the year so far.
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12:34PM on 09/29/2011
my favorite movie of the year. fucking awesome in every way.
my favorite movie of the year. fucking awesome in every way.
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11:45AM on 09/29/2011
I REALLY wanted to love this film, but I ended up just liking it, there were a few scenes which provoked the opposite reaction that Refn intended,like the head-stomp scene, which was sort of over-the-top(and looked sort of fake effects wise, so it took me out of the film a bit) and caused some people at my screening to laugh out loud, I couldn't help but laugh as well. Don't get me wrong, it's still a pretty good film, it just didn't strike me as a masterpiece. I actually wouldn't have minded
I REALLY wanted to love this film, but I ended up just liking it, there were a few scenes which provoked the opposite reaction that Refn intended,like the head-stomp scene, which was sort of over-the-top(and looked sort of fake effects wise, so it took me out of the film a bit) and caused some people at my screening to laugh out loud, I couldn't help but laugh as well. Don't get me wrong, it's still a pretty good film, it just didn't strike me as a masterpiece. I actually wouldn't have minded if this film ended up as more of a blockbuster with Hugh Jackman, it could've still been pretty good.
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10:07AM on 09/29/2011
After reading this, I'm thinking about seeing this a third time!
After reading this, I'm thinking about seeing this a third time!
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