CON: A fan report from the secret screening of Drive!
During the panel for DRIVE (shared with DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK), director Nicolas Winding Refn announced there would be a secret screening of the film that night at Comic-Con. None of the JoBlo.com crew was available to make it, but one of our loyal readers, Dude From the Stairs on MFC, was there and was kind enough to write a quick review. I was really excited based on what I saw at Comic-Con and it turns my excitement was legit. Check out what he has to say!
PLOT: A Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) by day and a wheelman by night begins to have a relationship with his next door neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). That is, until her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from jail.
REVIEW: Not since Michael Mann's, Heat, have I seen Los Angeles filmed so beautifully at night. All of the credit goes to the director, Nicolas Winding Refn (Winner of Best Director at this years Cannes film festival). It seems to me he is paying homage to movies of the past. This was his first "Hollywood" film and I have to say it fires on all cylinders. From the opening sequence, the tension starts to build and never lets you go until the final act. With its 80's throwback feel and synth score, I can't help but to think of movies like, To Live and Die in LA. The cast he was able to assemble is truly amazing.
Ryan Gosling, who is simply known as Driver, is a man of few words that expresses himself through his eyes and has this Steve McQueen demeanor about him and is incredibly badass. Carey Mulligan plays Irene, a single mother who lives with her son in the same apartment building as Gosling. Once we're introduced to her character we start to see a different side of Driver. The connection between the two is sweet and charming. But the tone quickly changes when she tells him her husband (Oscar Isaac) is coming home from jail. The rest of the cast is just terrific. Bryan Cranston, in another great performance, plays Shannon, who is Driver's boss and mentor. When he's not bossing him around at the shop, he's planning his next heist. That's when we're introduced to Nino (Ron Pearlman) and an old time Hollywood producer and crook, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks). Normally we're used to seeing Brooks in comedic roles, but he is terrifyingly brilliant as the villain.
The film is very stylized and violent and the cinematography is breathtaking. The streets of Los Angeles have never looked so gritty and menacing. If you've seen his earlier films then you know what to expect. The look and feel of the movie is an action thriller straight out of the 80's. The car chases are some of the best I've seen in a long time. The way the director uses the camera in some of the most subtle scenes is fantastic. The tension the film carries throughout is heavily influenced by the wonderful soundtrack and score. The music is just as important as any character in the film. The heavy electronica soundtrack will have you racing to iTunes to purchase it.
In a year of sequels, remakes, and superhero movies, it's refreshing to see an original film be released. I truly believe Nicolas Winding Refn will have a promising career. Drive is easily my favorite film of the year. I encourage everyone to go see it opening day. Most importantly, see it on the big screen with an awesome surround sound.
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