It confounds expectation
Drive is not one genre or another. It is a tender love story, a hero’s journey, a revenge film – and what the characters do and say is rarely predictable. In other words, the story and script confound expectation. It earned Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn the best director crown at Cannes but US writer James Sallis, who wrote the novel, and Iran-born Brit Hossein Amini, who wrote the adaptation, also deserve credit for the film’s originality.
The power of love
Ryan Gosling’s character never loses his calm, cool and collected persona but he does lose his ability to remain disconnected when Irene (Carey Mulligan) comes along. Falling in love turns ordinary people into super heroes and always has.
Its otherworldly feel
Gosling and Refn wanted the film to be like a dream that turns into a nightmare and that’s exactly its tone.
Marvel at the pre-credit opening scene
Spectacle is the common denominator of cinematic car action. Think Die Hard 4 with its hilariously spectacular mid-air collision between a helicopter and a police car and, much more recently, the semi-trailer hurtling over the hill in Wolf Creek 2. Drive’s opening car scene is very, very different but no less brilliant. It gets the heart thumping because of the driver’s (Gosling) stealth, restraint and smarts – not just because of the pressure he exerts on the accelerator. The decision to film from inside the car greatly adds to the suspense too, and makes the scene very familiar, not because we recognise it from other films, but because being in a car is part of everyday life. This is an example of the stylistic freshness of the film – and how it makes the audience feel like a protagonist rather than an observer.
Admire the cars
I grew up with three older brothers and recognise a classy car when I see one. I now want a 1973 Chevy Malibu.
The music is fabulous
The world renowned DJ and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer responsible for the music score, Cliff Martinez, takes a less-is-more approach that merges pop, electronics and female vocals. He went on to work on Refn’s follow-up film Only God Forgives – and talks frankly about that experience here.
Gotta love the cast
The cast is outstanding: Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan as the leads; Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad; Christina Hendricks from Mad Men; Oscar Isaac from Balibo; plus the veterans Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman.
I’ll just mention that again: Christina Hendricks
Whether she’s merely walking across the car park or holding on for dear life on the back seat, Hendricks is astounding. She stars in several films now in the pipeline – and about time too.
The second lift scene
It is said that the imagination of the audience is a filmmaker’s most effective tool. This scene, near the end of the film, proves it. A warning: don’t let it run too wild.
Have a laugh
The film is a reminder of the existence of the ‘Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal’ video. If you somehow missed Ryan W. McHenry’s viral success, it’s here.