By Michael Kalafatis (Stoke on Trent)


Driver: There’s 100,000 streets in this city. You don’t need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five-minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you’re on your own. Do you understand?

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks.

An unnamed Hollywood stunt driver (Ryan Gosling) who also works secretly as a getaway driver starts a relationship with Irene (Carey Mulligan) who is his neighbour but when her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from prison, the unnamed character gets drawn in to the world of organize crime as he tries to protect both Irene and her son from the clutches of the local mobsters. Drive starts of in a very serene and hypnotic note and we see how the unnamed driver wants to quit his day job at the garage where he works for Shannon (Bryan Cranston) and become a professional driver but like most typical film noir films from the moment our protagonist meets and falls in love with a woman, it is always an indication of his own downfall even though in Drive the woman is not a deadly feme fatale or a manipulative creature but a caring and understanding person who just got mixed up with the wrong crowd.

The plot also is reminiscing of film noir as it becomes more intricate and convoluted as the film progresses which makes Drive a film worth re-watching just like all the great film noirs, even though Drive belongs to the neo-noir genre which is an update on the film noir genre as it adds colour in its cinematography but retain the thematic core of film noirs like greed, corruption, betrayal and revenge. In the genre of neo-noir Drive can be put alongside Chinatown (1974), L.A. Confidential (1997), Memento (2000) and Blade Runner (1982) even thought at first glance Drive seems like it solely belongs to the genre of crime thriller.

The character of the driver is performed by Ryan Gosling in a very intense performance, even though he seldom utters a word, a laconic character that his facial expression conveys more emotions than words could ever express but Carey Mulligan rivals him in his laconic performance, and their relationship becomes believable because of their strong chemistry, even though they never talk to each other for a long period of time. Nicolas Winding Refn on many occasions likes to show facial expression and gaze at Gosling expressions which indicates how he wants to subverts the way male characters are shown on films because in a neo noir films we expect the camera to lingers on a blond bombshell not on a male character’s facial expressions and also making the “blond bombshell” an angel-like creature who only cares about his son wellbeing comes in contrast with most film noirs.

Drive is sunbathed in the L.A. sun and its cinematography is rich in colours that betrays what is at the heart of the film, as the film progresses we start to get glimpses and shades of violence that come in contrast with the lush world that the characters inhabits, the gruesome images manage to overpower the serene and blissfully start of the film, which shows the characters having aspiration and hope for their future but when the unnamed drive’s satin jacket starts to gather blood and gradually change its colour to red, we realise how unfortunate the lead characters of the films have been and how doomed they relationship was from the start.

Watching Drive, I realised how much it evokes David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) which is also at its core a neo-noir film, I always saw Nicholas Winding Refn as the successor of David Lynch but lacking the horror elements of Lynch’s films as Wind Refn is more interested in gruesome images of amputation and blood while Lynch wants to disturb its audience by using disturbing and horrifying images that can affect in deeper psychological way.

Rating: 4/5

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