Drive…Neither Fast, Nor Furious
It’s no wonder that Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive has polarized audiences. While it is far from being a full-throttle action extravaganza in the same vein as the Fast and Furious movies, it has strangely been marketed as such. A shame really, as people going into the film expecting to see some Vin Diesel-esque moments of heart-racing car stunts and edge-of-seat action are only going to come out angry, likely to spit vitriol about how boring and pointless Drive is.
So once again, I’ll try to clean up the mess left by the inane film marketing departments with their dollar sign eyes and tell it to you straight up; contrary to the posters and trailers you may have seen, if you are a fan of the Fast and Furious movies, you will probably hate this film.
It gets annoying that distributors are so blinded by their “bums on seats” mentality that they try to lure audiences by misinforming them. The old “if you liked that movie, you’ll love this movie” style of marketing can sometimes be helpful, but is most often just an excuse to group one film in with a more proven, successful one. In the case of Drive, it becomes a case of good old fashioned false advertising.
If you are anything like me and think the Fast and Furious films are excruciatingly tedious, you might even run the risk of skipping Drive altogether. That would be a big mistake as Drive is, in many ways, a film for lovers of film. Brilliantly directed, exquisitely shot, beautifully acted and uniquely paced, it is easily the most interesting piece of cinema released in many months.
Ryan Gosling plays a quiet, softly spoken character. A Hollywood stunt man by day, a getaway driver for crims by night. When he strikes up a friendship with his neighbor (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, he eventually gets caught up in a world of contract killers and gangsters, one of whom is played by Albert Brooks, one of my favorite and under-appreciated actors, who gets to tone down his usual humorous persona and play a nasty son of a bitch.
Having enjoyed director Refn’s earlier film Bronson, I was prepared for anything when I walked into Drive. Bronson was a hardcore and wholly original piece of work and while Drive has a more subdued tone throughout, it certainly has moments of shock and intensity. Most of all though, Drive exudes an understated cool vibe, the likes of which I have rarely seen done successfully since early Tarantino.
Deliberately slow in some parts, increasingly violent in others, this is a meticulously shot film with some truly great sequences. Those who found the story lacking and Goslings near mute performance undercooked and annoying have, in my opinion, seriously missed out on experiencing something incredible.
Such high praise cannot come without one or two nitpicks though. I could have done without the “in your face” 80′s synth pop soundtrack and the retro pink titles at the beginning of the film. It didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I just didn’t see the need to place what I thought was an original and challenging piece of cinema in an 80′s “Pretty in Pink” style aesthetic. Maybe it’s a small thing, but in this world of endless remakes, re-dos and rehashes, Drive seemed original enough to not have to revert to the retro thing.
You think I’m nitpicking? Yeah, you’re probably right.
Having said that, the film undoubtedly conjured up memories of similar films from the 70s and 80s, but unlike Tarantino’s Death Proof for example, it also felt new and original enough to stand on its own two feet.
While many have accused Drive of being slow and boring, I would disagree and call it hypnotic and endlessly interesting. Whatever side you are on, one thing is for sure, a movie that creates such broad opinion and debate can’t be such a bad thing. Dammit, that’s what I love about movies.
by Adam Fay
Read more film reviews by Adam at http://iseefilms.wordpress.com
Watch the trailer…