MartinBlank76 -> RE: Drive (26/9/2011 6:10:24 PM)
SPOILERS GALORE!!!!SPOILERS GALORE!!!!
One of the things I enjoy the most about Drive is how it follows at times what seems to be a conventional route but takes all these little detours to give a different spin on the preceedings, to stamp its character and that of Refn, on all thats going on.
The lead character is a great example of this. On the face of it, he is no one we havent seen before in movies (and he is very much a movie hero in certain ways, with the fact he works in the movies you almost feel this is a deliberate move on his part). He is the man with no name, mcqueen in bullit, ryan o’neal in The Driver, a man of few words, who for the most part is self-contained, keeps his thoughts to himself, always looks ridiculously cool no matter what he is wearing or doing (seriously, how many of us could pull of the toothpick look or the scorpion jacket). But despite all this he doesn’t follow convention. Early on when he is ‘wooing’ carey mulligans character and promises her a surprise, you never expect that to be an oasis of nature in the middle of the city in one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie.
His whole relationship with Irene follows different lines than normal, it is all stems from a place of innocence, he loves her so much he will do what is necessary for her happiness which may not necessarily be the same as his. When her partner gets released from prison you sit back and wait for him to turn into the usual abusive boyfriend who you cant understand what she sees or ever seen in him. And then gosling will have to step in and save the day. And besides their first meeting where suspicion radiates of Standard in waves making you think a confrontation is rapidly on its way, it very quickly takes another route were Standard sees Driver as friend and he kinda is if only to be able to be with Irene and benicio.
I really loved the vein of nicely underplayed humour that ran through the film especially from the double act of Brooks and Perlman. Not that these are comedic characters in any way but they have a wry way with a funny line and a certain charisma that makes you almost think a spin off with these two characters would work. At the same time, they are two nasty pieces of work, even though brooks gives of the air of preferring the quiet life, he is not afraid to get his hands dirty if need be.
Cranston is also excellent playing what in a way would be a mentor role if it wasn’t for the fact that he needs Driver more than Driver needs him. And Christina Hendricks turns up looking very different than her more glam mad men role, she is not in it long but she gets to go out in a very memorable fashion, in after what has been a pretty violence free first 45 mins or so, Refn ramps up the blood and the shocks. There are several more instances of this, including an irreversible type attack on some wiseguys head, and I could hear a mixture of gasps and at times nervous laughter coming from the audience around me. While explicit it never feels needless and fits the world of Driver, the world of this Travis Bicklesesque character married with the eye of Michael Mann. Drivers inner travis bickle only comes through in self defense though. Unlike Bickle you never feel he is going to go off the edge in some way or another, though the threat of violence always lies beneath that calm surface, he only ever produces it in self defense or defence of Irene and benicio. Driver belongs and fits in, at least on the surface, a lot easier in the world than Bickle does. Though there is a moment in the film were some dude from a previous job recognises him and the first crack of what lies beneath is revealed when Driver tells him in no uncertain terms to get lost or he will feel the pain. In fact what he threatens him with is pretty much what he does later to the wiseguy in the lift.
Gosling is one of my favourite actors, I love half nelson and blue valentine and his performances in them. He has this presence, this movie star charisma married with this realism, that is useful for a film like Drive which can be quite stylised and Driver quite a character that could only exist in the movies but thanks to Goslings performance he breathes life into him and makes him a real person. Lots of great, subtle work going on here, especially in the very sweet romance between him and Irene. At times when they are together especially the scene were she turns up at his garage and Cranston teases them, they seem to regress to two lovesick teenagers getting ready for a date or going to the prom, all shy smiles and not much said but looks and glances that promise so much.
Refn did a great job with this, loved how he handled the quiet moments along with the more bloody ones and how he shot the city at night in a ‘Michael mann of the 80s’ stylised mode. The whole 80s theme worked wonders, from the music to the pink opening credits. Refn’s fingerprints are all over this film, I really enjoyed Bronson and to a lesser extent Valhalla rising and had the feeling he would be a very interesting filmmaker to follow. With Drive, he has just made himself an essential filmmaker.
• The opening scene with the car has probably just become my favourite car chase of all time. More a subtle game of cat and mouse than an engine gunning, car smashing atypical car chase, its tense and exciting, even though half of it, is them sitting in the car in the dark, waiting to pull out and escape. Another sign of this film being something different than normal is that despite the fact they do share the odd worried glance between each other, the two criminals in the back never question Driver or his methods. In many other films, you can imagine them flipping out and screaming, ’what the hell are you doing MAN?!!’ when he is cruising slowly behind the police car before he turns off and heads in another direction. Love the way the sport event ties in with it all, his careful monitoring of both it and the police scanner all timed to a T. It reminds me a little bit of the car chase in Way of the Gun which also did something a little different and just didn’t resort to the usual tyres and brakes squealing, cardboard boxes flying, guys trying to carry a sheet of glass across the road failing to get out of the way in time.
• He doesn’t carry a gun and though he does use one in the hotel, he leaves it behind which seems a bit foolhardy but when you are as handy with a hammer, a shower rail, your boot and of course your car as he is, who needs a gun.
• You can almost see his thought processes when Benicio hands him the bullet the bad guys told him to hold on to. ‘Why dont you let me take care of it’ tells you all you need to know what will happen next.
• Love the use of music in the film, the score is excellent and the songs chosen work perfectly with the film and also how the lyrics also hint at the themes of the film. ‘under your spell’ and ‘you are a real human being, you are a hero’ you can almost imagine Driver himself picking these songs to listen to, to pump himself up as he cruises the streets at night on a mission to save a damsel in distress.
• Driver comes across as a guy who doesn’t need much in life. His sparse apartment, the way he leaves one apartment for another all his belongings in one bag, Cranston saying that he turned up happy enough to work for a pittance and how he leaves this all to Cranstons character, even the way the money is split, which he just acknowledges it with an amused smile.
• Speaking of smiles, I just loved how he expressed himself and conveyed what he was feeling not through words but through a little series of smiles and shy smirks. Especially in his developing relationship with Irene who comes across really sympathetic and lovable, you can see why he would fall for her. Despite in the coming home party scene were you can tell on one level how she is thinking of Driver she is still there for her husband and there is a bond between them too.
• The scene in the elevator and how it turns from this magical extended moment between two people, a kiss long been contemplated, what was long left unspoken is finally acted upon...just seconds before he disposes of the wiseguy in quite a psychotic fashion. You just wonder what that was like for Irene, from the kiss to what she witnessed all in the space of a minute. Must have left her feeling somewhat shell-shocked.
• Like the little sly moments where Refn avoids taking himself and all the cool too seriously. Driver giving a toothpick to the kid to chew, working as a stuntman he probably has picked up on these little habits as a way of taking his film life home with him after the cameras have stopped rolling. In a kinda, ‘i rolled a car seven times today and got out without a scratch, darn tooting I can get away with chewing on a toothpick.’ Also the scene were brooks mentions his previous life making bad 80s actions movies with a European slant, that were actually s***e.
• As the song says, ‘you are a real hero’, is he? Does he think so himself? Is his scorpion jacket in a sense his spidey suit? No matter how battered and bloody it gets he keeps it on as the film as Driver goes to a bloody end. Loved the way he handled that, driving his car away to who knows where? Probably to die while Irene knocks on his empty apartment door. Reminded me of little of cheyenne in once upon a time in the west, going out in to the desert to die leaving Jill behind, content she is safe.
• So many great scenes and shots framed almost so they could be as a still taken and put on the wall. Like the scene were he stands over the guy in the club with the women looking on scantily clad and kinda bored looking like these random bursts of violence happen all the time in their company. Driver is standing above him gripping the hammer tight, sweat pouring off him, as if he is trying to contain himself from tearing him apart.
All in all, it just blew me away and I shall be heading to see it again in couple of days and who knows my score might get even higher second time round but for now I would give it 9.3 toothpicks out of 10. Film of the year for me so far.