Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Empire Blogs
Cannes 2011

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Drive

Posted on Monday May 23, 2011, 18:31 by Damon Wise in Cannes 2011
Drive

As you probably can tell from the sudden infrequency of this year's Cannes updates, the 64th festival  didn't fizzle out after the world premiere of Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life – in fact, it actually got much, much busier. Screening the same day as Almodovar's almost perfectly bonkers The Skin I Live In, Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive roared across the screen and left audiences breathless. If you're familiar with Refn's Pusher trilogy you'll know a fair bit about his visceral style and fondness for extreme violence, but Drive isn't quite in that vein. Conceived as an homage to such LA noirs as Michael Mann's Thief (1981) – check out the title art – and William Friedkin's To Live And Die In LA (1985), Drive is actually more reminiscent of his two most obscure films – Bleeder (1999), which is Refn's only halfway romantic movie before this one, and Fear X (2003), a psychological thriller using music and mood to reflect its troubled hero's paranoid state of mind.

As it did in Fear X, atmosphere takes precedence here. Indeed, Drive is so 80s-tinged I thought it should come with a Carolco logo and a few fuzzy kinks to give it that watched-on-video look (Refn would prefer the Cannon imprimatur). But this is not just a Grindhouse pastiche, and neither, it must be stressed, a car-chase caper in the style of Fast & Furious 5 – as Refn and star Ryan Gosling were keen to emphasise, this is more of a God's Lonely Man story (no wonder Robert De Niro's jury gave it the Best Director prize).

After the talk-talk-talk of Blue Valentine, Drive is instantly notable for what it leaves unsaid, preferring to dwell instead on looks and stares. Quiet and brooding, Gosling plays Driver, a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway guy; his deal is that you get five minutes of his expertise and after that you're on your own. Driver is a moody Steve McQueen type, always chewing on a toothpick and wearing the same satin bomber jacket, emblazoned with an image 'borrowed' from Kenneth Anger's influential short film Scorpio Rising. The surface of Driver's solitary existence is broken when he strikes up a friendship with his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son. An affair seems to be brewing, but then Irene reveals her wayward husband is coming out of jail, and so Driver retreats back into his shell. Irene's husband, though, is in a bit of a fix. He owes protection money to gangsters who are trying to force him into carrying out a robbery as payment. Fearing that Irene and her son might get hurt, Driver agrees to help him, but the job turns out to be more dangerous than he thought.

It's hard to describe what happens next because Drive shoots in so many directions. It starts with scenes of tight, low-key, Bullitt-style tension, but when it explodes into violence it does so with a splashy bravado. This is a world where cigarettes smoulder and heads explode, scored with a pulsing synth soundtrack that sounds like a sleazier version of the background music from the original Miami Vice. Gosling may not fit everyone's bill as the strong, silent type, and Mulligan is a little underused, but Drive is nevertheless an exciting. kinetic, stop-start crime thriller that plays interesting games with our expectations, creating something rich and strange from some very familiar components but never failing to deliver the goods.

Refn's film gave the last leg of the festival a much-needed adrenaline blast, and the good news is that you won't have to wait too long to see it in the UK. Icon are revving up for a release on September 30, and they may well have a hit on their hands: a stylish, sexy and intelligent genre piece that engages the brain while it gleefully rips open the arteries.

Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 Manfrendshensindshen
Posted on Wednesday May 25, 2011, 13:09
So it's more of an 80s homage? Judging by the title, as well as the theme, I thought this would be a love letter to Walter Hill's The Driver. But then again I'm certain Michael Mann watched Hill's movie (or, to be more precise, Philip Lathrop's cinematography) more than once before he made Thief, so referencing both films at the same time shouldn't be all that difficult.

In a recent interview Cliff Martinez also explained that Refn was the first director he'd ever worked with who wanted the synthesizer to sound like a synthesizer, which - to me, not having seen the movie - shows that his commitment to paying tribute to those "dark eighties" movies was rather serious. Bring on a distribution deal for Germany!

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (333)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Movies And Medinas: Empire Reports From Marrakech International Film Festival
By Phil de Semlyen

Dubai Film Festival: The unlikely appeal of camel beauty pageants…
By Nev Pierce

Mission: Probable - Dubai's attempt to attract Hollywood
By Nev Pierce

The Dubai International Film Festival: Paul Bettany and Russell Crowe turn directors
By Nev Pierce

Night Visions 2014: The Harvest, Let Us Prey and Nuntius
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: Marcos Ortiz and In Darkness We Fall
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: Pablo Larcuen and Hooked Up
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Spanish Contingent
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Documentaries
By Owen Williams

Night Visions 2014: The Nordic Genre Invasion
By Owen Williams


RECENT COMMENTS

Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)
"Or don't..."  Owen Williams
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Juan Francisco Pardo Q&A
"Sadece on altı dakika içinde iyi bir görsel hikaye anlatmak önemli beceri ve bel"  skndrdmr
Read comment

Aruba 2013: Opening Gala
"That really amazing."  ommrudraksha
Read comment

2013 IIFF - The Winners
"Hi Simon, Trying to get in touch with you. Hope this works. I enjoyed your piece on Enter t"  matthewpolly
Read comment

Christoph Waltz will win an Oscar
"although its old now :(, of course he was gonna win it :), one of the many idols of why i wanna be a"  SONYA ALALIBO
Read comment

Brisbane International Film Festival: First Report
"I think it is pretty clear the story revolves around The Blacksmith, in The Man With The Iron Fists,"  owenyunfat
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Thanks for the feedback! I hope I didn't give the impression that Cloud Atlas is a write-off; I just"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Hi Damon With regards to Cloud Atlas, I fear that it will face the same problem a"  ChesterCopperpot
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"No worries! I just try to describe things as I see them, and I often forget that, as Empire has grow"  Damon_Wise
Read comment

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
"Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your early reviews from the festivals, and of course, I'm not alway"  pythonlove
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Sundance Part Six: In The Loop
13 comments

The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview
9 comments

Basterds Blog
9 comments

Damo's Top Ten Of 2009
9 comments

Sundance 2010: Four Lions blows everyone away!
8 comments

Sundance 2010: The Killer Inside Me causes outrage!
7 comments

Chris Hewitt Of The Year Award!!!!
7 comments

TIFF 2012: Silver Linings Playbook, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Cloud Atlas, The Place Beyond The Pines
7 comments

The Wrestler
6 comments

Uncle Boonmee: An Explanation
6 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (3)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Review Of The Year: 40 Worst Posters Of 2014
One-sheets that you'd rather not have on your wall

Hobbit Q&As: Ian McKellen On Finally Saying Goodbye And Farewell To Gandalf The Grey
Read our exclusive Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies interviews

Review Of 2014: Empire's Interviews Of The Year
Crews! Chan! Chickens?! The chats we loved in 2014...

Gallery: Peter Jackson Prop Art: The Bigiatures
An exclusive look inside the director's secret warehouse

Review Of 2014: The Best TV Moments Of The Year
We celebrate the small screen's biggest scenes

A Day In The Life Of An Orc
Three of Mordor's finest describe life in the Dark Lord’s employ

20 Great Films You (Probably) Didn't See In 2014
The underseen joys and unreleased gems of the last 12 months

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)