Sunday, September 4, 2011


"If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I'm yours no matter what. I don't sit in while you're running it down. I don't carry a gun. I drive."

I'm often asked why I'm quick to dismiss certain films, such as otherwise fun action films. The reason for this is because action films have become far too predictable. The storylines are recycled, the action sequences drag on for minutes on end, and I can't wait until the film is over. If all action films were made in the same manner as Drive, however, I'd be seeing more of them.

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a driver of getaway cars. The film is meticulously directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who won the Best Director prize at the Festival de Cannes. I had been wondering how he won the prize of Terrence Malick, who constructed the beautiful and poetic film, The Tree of Life. The fact of the matter is, Drive is as beautiful and poetic as that film, in its own way and in its own genre of crime, thriller, and action.

The film is delicately crafted and uses elements and conventions of these genres, but also subverts them and makes them an artistic exploration.The film is very slow-paced and patient in its storytelling. The subtleness of its scenes are contrasted with stylized violence; after all, that's what Nicolas Winding Refn is known for. The film builds its suspense quietly, allowing us to build a relationship with its characters. The beauty of this film is what the filmmaker does with the camera. In the same manner that Martin Scorsese moved the camera into the boxing ring for Raging Bull, in an attempt to put us right into the action of the fights, Nicolas Winding Refn puts the camera inside the driver's car. This allows us to feel like we are in the car with him, in the midst of all the action and violence. There are very few shots where we see the action from high above or from other angles. If the driver is in the car, then we're in the car with him.

There are moments of immense surprise in the film, such as unpredictable scenes of violence, as well as some beautifully choreographed scenes between Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. The film is very well-structured, the camera is patient in the hands of the director, and the film takes its time to emphasize what it really wants us to know. There is very minimal dialogue in the film, a quality rarely attributed to this sort of film. In fact, while working together, Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan decided to leave out most of the dialogue in the screenplay. The result is an odd combination of character study meets gripping action, but everything somehow works in the hands of its director.

There's a certain sense of mystery revolving around the driver, who he is and why he does what he does, but that's what makes him so interesting. Ryan Gosling reaffirms why he is one of the best actors working today. The driver's anger, sadness, vulnerability, complexity, and the rest of his emotions are all internal. Ryan Gosling has the amazing gift of restraining his emotions; he is acting with his eyes and telling the audience how he feels inside.

Drive is scheduled for release on September 16, 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I had loved your review...and I didn't imagine how much I would love the film after reading it. I'm usually not the one to take to an action film, but this was exactly my type of film. Love Ryan Gosling and loved Drive!