Drive

Friday, 28 October, 2011

2 and a half stars

The premise

Drive (trailer), a drama thriller, is the latest feature of Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Bronson”, “Valhalla Rising”). While based on the novel of the same name, written by James Sallis in 2005, some comparisons have been made with a 1978 film called “The Driver”, in that both lead characters share similar traits.

“Drive” stars Ryan Gosling playing a character known only as “Driver”, a solitary man of few words, who mixes part time work as both a mechanic and stunt actor, with a sideline gig as a getaway driver, where he adeptly ports thieves from the scenes of their crimes to refuge, by way of some intricately planned escape routes.

The play

Driver begins to cast off his desire for isolation after befriending a new neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), a single mother living with young son Benicio (Kaden Leos) in a nearby apartment. Driver learns that her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is in prison, and in his absence draws closer to both Irene and Benicio.

Matters become somewhat more complicated after Standard’s release though. While generally appreciative of Driver’s help to the family during his incarceration, Standard finds himself being pursued by standover men looking for money he owes them. Driver, seeing Standard can’t possibly afford to repay the debt, offers to help Standard rob a pawn shop.

After the heist goes horribly wrong though, Driver, who ended up with the million dollar cash haul from the robbery, finds himself running from one of Los Angeles most feared criminals, Nino (Ron Perlman). With Nino demanding the return of the money in exchange for Irene’s well being, Driver realises no one will ever be truly safe while Nino is alive.

The wrap

“Drive” is a film that puzzles me. While it won the “Best Director Award” at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, and has been collecting glowing reviews ever since, I found it to be erratically paced, incohesive, and excessively violent, not to mention being lumbered with a soundtrack more befitting of a rom-com than a thriller.

Scenes intended, perhaps, to be high on apprehension and contemplation often led nowhere, and instead came off as being brooding and pretentious. Parts of “Drive” were enjoyable however, particularly the getaway and chase sequences, which were often tense and dramatic, but otherwise this was an empty, unrewarding, experience.

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