Drive

★★★★  A+

Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Screenplay by: Hossein Amini
Based off of the Book Drive by James Sallis
Ryan Gosling: The Driver (Nameless)
Carey Mulligan: Irene
Bryan Cranston: Shannon
Albert Brooks: Bernie Rose
Ron Perlman: Nino
Oscar Isaac: Standard

The movie’s title is Drive. It’s about a movie about cars, the mafia, and a little romance starring a stunt driver/amateur race car driver who helps the bad guys. You know where I’m going with this: it’s a stupid action movie that’s fun to watch.

Only….Its not. Drive is actually one of the most interesting films I’ve ever seen. Why? Its complexity. Not in the same way that Inception (2010) and Fight Club (1997) were complex. Rather, its all founded on emotional complexity. What the characters feel at all times. The movies I can most closely relate this to are The Graduate (1967), The American (2010), and Lost in Translation (2003), only with a spin on it reminiscent of  Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1991).

Drive tells the story of a mechanic who, under the guidance of the shop owner, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), decides to spend more time as a stunt driver and gets hired gets hired by the films future villain as a racecar driver. The film opens however with the secret career of the driver, moonlighting as a wheelman (a.k.a. he drives the getaway car for villains). I connected with this character, played by Ryan Gosling, but upon writing this review, I thought I had forgotten his name, yet upon checking IMDB (The Internet Movie Database), I saw realized just what an amazing feat screenwriter Hossein Amini (and possibly author James Sallis (I didn’t read the book)) had pulled off. Gosling’s character is simply, “Driver”. We never know the main characters name! That is impressive!

In any case, after a long, slow, Sofia Coppola-esque romance with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who is the only mother of her child. They are not divorced and her husband  – Standard (Oscar Isaac) – is not dead, rather he is in prison. When he returns though, we discover that he is in debt to the mafia and, in an effort to protect her married his married lover, the driver decides to help Standard by being his wheel man in a robbery organized by the mafia to help him pay off his debts. But, when things go wrong, the mafia goes after the driver and uses threats against Irene and her son as bait.

Much like my comparisons, the acting was superb and deserves more recognition than it has gotten. Albert Brooks WILL receive an academy nomination, if not a win. His portrayal of Mafia leader was phenomenal.  Ryan Gosling was also fantastic and most certainly is deserving of an Academy award for his part though he is not worthy for his Golden Globe nominated performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love, though, to a lesser extent, he is also worthy for his performance in George Clooney’s The Ides of March. Oscar Isaac is great as Standard, however, this is not that amazing of a role and is not necessarily an Oscar worthy performance. Carey Mulligan, who has a decent shot at an Oscar nod, equal at least to Gosling, could run in either the Leading Actress or Supporting categories for both Drive and the Michael Fassbender flick, Shame (I am not able to review this film due to its NC-17 rating and my being…well, under 17). Ron Perlman is also fantastic as Brook’s partner/boss.

The amazing thing about this film is that so few lines are uttered, especially by the driver and Irene. They both seem to say what is absolutely necessarily.  And then, amidst the film’s 100 minute runtime, about five of them are brutal action scenes. More brutal than anything else I’ve seen this year, including the eight minute-long rape scene in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But they are only about 1 minute long each at the longest. Drive uses innovative techniques in cinematography and editing, and quite for frankly, I thought that the first half of the movie was one long montage.

This is, quite simply, one of the best movies of the year in my opinion and Roger Ebert declared it THE best movie of the year! However, be warned. This is a rather polarizing movie. Some may simply hate it. I on the other hand love it!

hy? Its complexity. Not in the same way that Inception (2010) and Fight Club (1997) were complex. Rather, its all founded on emotional complexity. What the characters feel at all times. The movies I can most closely relate this to are The Graduate (1967), The American (2010), and Lost in Translation (2003), only with a spin on it reminiscent of Goodfellas (1991).

Drive uses innovative techniques in cinematography and editing, and quite for frankly, I thought that the first half of the movie was one long montage.

Drive tells the story of a mechanic who, under the guidance of the shop owner, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), decides to spend more time as a stunt driver and gets hired gets hired by the films future villain as a racecar driver. The film opens however with the secret career of the driver, moonlighting as a wheelman (a.k.a. he drives the getaway car for villains). I connected with this character, played by Ryan Gosling, but upon writing this review, I thought I had forgotten his name, yet upon checking IMDB (The Internet Movie Database), I saw realized just what an amazing feat screenwriter Hossein Amini (and possibly author James Sallis (I didn’t read the book)) had pulled off. Gosling’s character is simply, “Driver”. We never know the main characters name! That is impressive!

In any case, after a long, slow, Sofia Coppola-esque romance with his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), who is the only mother of her child. They are not divorced and her husband  – Standard (Oscar Issac) – is not dead, rather he is in prison. When he returns though, we discover that he is in debt to the mafia and, in an effort to protect her married his married lover, the driver decides to help Standard by being his wheel man in a robbery organized by the mafia to help him pay off his debts. But, when things go wrong, the mafia goes after the driver and uses threats against Irene and her son as bait.

Much like my comparisons, the acting was superb and deserves more recognition than it has gotten. Albert Brooks WILL receive an academy nomination, if not a win. His portrayal of Mafia leader was phenomenal.  Ryan Gosling was also fantastic and most certainly is deserving of an Academy award for his part though he is not worthy for his Golden Globe nominated performance in Crazy, Stupid, Love, though, to a lesser extent, he is also worthy for his performance in George Clooney’s The Ides of March. Oscar Issac is great as Standard, however, this is not that amazing of a role and is not necessarily an Oscar worthy performance. Carey Mulligan, who has a decent shot at an Oscar nod, equal at least to Gosling, could run in either the Leading Actress or Supporting categories for both Drive and the Michael Fassbender flick, Shame (I am not able to review this film due to its NC-17 rating and my being…well, under 17). Ron Perlman is also fantastic as Brook’s partner/boss.

The amazing thing about this film is that so few lines are uttered, especially by the driver and Irene. They both seem to say what is absolutely necessarily.  And then, amidst the film’s 100 minute runtime, about five of them are brutal action scenes. More brutal than anything else I’ve seen this year, including the eight minute-long rape scene in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But they are only about 1 minute long each at the longest. Drive uses innovative techniques in cinematography and editing, and quite for frankly, I thought that the first half of the movie was one long montage.

This is, quite simply, one of the best movies of the year in my opinion and Roger Ebert declared it THE best movie of the year! However, be warned. This is a rather polarizing movie. Some may simply hate it. I on the other hand love it!

Lane J Lubell

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