Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive is about the relationship between the Driver, a Hollywood stuntman, and his neighbor, Irene. This is the heart of the movie, but, surrounding it, are mobsters, stock car racing, and blackmail. It's a beautiful movie that calls to mind Michael Mann, Tangerine Dream films. It's a languid film at times, at others tense, but always beautiful. One of its most memorable scenes (seen in the header) is preceded by a beautiful kiss, then followed with savagery.
The story turns on its head when Irene's husband, Standard, comes back into town and is threatened by some local lowlifes. The Driver, in an effort to protect Irene's family, steps in to help Standard complete a heist. Things go wrong when Standard is shot upon leaving and Driver is tailed by a mysterious car. He realizes that they have been set up and is then attacked. What follows is shocking, revealing the full depth of the brutality. Even watching other Refn movies, I was surprised at what followed.
What follows is the Driver's attempts to extract himself from the danger. He has no need for the money and it's only after the people he cares about are threatened that the Driver becomes something less than human, though he fights with everything he has to maintain that humanity.
This film came out of nowhere for me. I'd seen the trailers, I'd even seen Bronson, Valhalla Rising and Pusher. But, for some reason, I was not prepared for what Drive was going to give me.
The opening unravels perfectly, with precision, and a perfect knowledge of what they are doing. You are inside the car with the Driver as he navigates Los Angeles with his cargo, two men who had just robbed some building. The music is a pulse-pounding Tick of the Clock by the Chromatics and that's one of the things you'll find . . . this movie absolutely loves its music. It truly feels that the music is as much a part of the scene as anything the actors are doing or the color pallet. Everything mixes together perfectly to create an intense, cinematic experience. Refn's earlier film, Bronson, also toyed with its music, used it lovingly to help craft the perfect mood for each scene and show change in time and area. But, as I said, for some reason, I was not prepared for Drive.
Part of what makes Drive so interesting is its cast. We have Ryan Gosling, forgoing the charming ladies man and instead playing a withdrawn professional who slowly lets a family into his life, only to get it stripped away from him. Then we have Carrie Mulligan, Oscar Isaac (one of my favorite actors), Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, and Christina Hendricks.
It's an amazing cast and no one fails to deliver.
I honestly recommend everyone watch Drive. It is not your typical action movie, though it does have those moments. The thing is . . . they're actually the most boring parts of the movie. Everything else is superb. The action - it's been done before. For those that don't believe me, here's an excellent analysis of the camera work in Drive.