Friday, 30 September 2011

Drive (2011)

Drive follows the story of a nameless Driver (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stuntman who, in his spare time, hires himself out as a getaway car driver. He has very strict rules: for 5 minutes he is at the disposal of the criminals, no matter what occurs; 1 minute either way and the crooks are on their own. He doesn’t carry a gun, he just drives. This serves him well, despite looking bit bored with life. However, his life is altered in a way he couldn't predict when he meets his next door neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her husband Standard (Oscar Issac) who has just been released from prison.

Despite the film being called Drive, there wasn’t too much driving (fine by me, I’m not a petrol head by any means) and it certainly doesn’t glamourise cars. When Ryan is driving, the film is kept fresh and dynamic by sharp editing and clever uses of the camera by director Nicolas Winding Refn. The film is very stylish (not the cars particularly, except for the Mustang), but just in the slick way it is filmed. Ironically I didn’t think that Ryan’s character was that stylish; he constantly wears a jacket with gold embroidered scorpion on the back and has a toothpick permanently poking out of the side of his mouth.

The focus of the first half of the film is the growing relationship between Ryan and Carey, and they are both brilliant. Ryan is always very cool and calm, and having come across as being fairly disinterested and bored with life, he starts to come to life as he gets to know Irene. Carey Mulligan is very good once again, she is very cute and bashful, not knowing how to play the relationship with the Driver, knowing that her husband is getting out of jail.

Having slowly built up the relationship in the first half of the film, there are some tremendously shocking moments in the second half; again the Driver showing how cool and calm (and lethal) he is under pressure. The film really accentuates the shocking moments by turning down all the sound prior to the scene that will make you jump out of your seat. The mob element was nicely done, Ron Perlman was fairly scary and Albert Brooks was very scary. Oscar Isaac played Standard in a very clever way, I really didn't know how he was going to react to the Driver's relationship with his wife. He showed that it wasn't a fluke that he was the best actor in Sucker Punch.

A great movie that was very well made, with the right balance of character development and hard hitting action. This film really goes to show how a simple concept, well written characters, and good film making can make a stand out film. Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are both fantastic, though I think I would have appreciated a little more time spent with Mulligan’s character because she’s a great actress. I didn’t expect to be quite so shocked, but there were moments when I had my hand to my mouth in surprise. Definitely one of the most original and well-crafted films this year.