In an era where car movies come in the style of “The Fast and the Furious” (2001), crammed with fast-paced action and bad acting, “Drive” is surprisingly thoughtful and well done.
Ryan Gosling stars as the unnamed main character — a part-time Hollywood stunt driver and getaway driver.
Gosling again demonstrates his brilliant acting abilities. Although his character has very little dialogue, he speaks beautifully with his eyes and facial expressions. He falls in love with his next door neighbor Irene, played by Carey Mulligan.
When Irene and her young son are threatened by local thugs, the driver delves further into the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles than he ever has before.
The premise of “Drive” sounds like the typical action movie. So why is it so different than the other junkers Hollywood has turned out in the last decade?
“Drive” is not composed of millions of quick shots, showing one angle of the action for a second and then another the next minute. Often characters are not shown as “talking heads” — shots of just the actors’ faces as they engage in a dialogue.
“Drive” has longer shots where the camera slowly tracks the characters’ movements. At some points, the camera holds on the silent scenes between two characters, so long that it almost becomes awkward for the audience. But this awkwardness works well, establishing a real connection between the audience and characters.
“Drive” had the same type of feel to it as 1985’s “To Live and Die in L.A.” This is not surprising as both films are neo noirs.
Neo noir is a genre that emerged from the film noirs — black and white movies that were cynical and often had a hard boiled detective and femme fatale at its heart. Neo noir movies differ from film noirs in that they are modernized film noirs using color and issues more relative to today’s standards.
“Chinatown” (1974) is a great example of this, as it is a film that deals with a sleazy detective that uncovers more than he expected. Neo noirs in this way also either reject or re-imagine the earlier stereotypes of film noir.
“Drive” possesses the cynicism, imperfect hero and unique camera angles of the neo noir genre. The French critic Nino Frank coined the term film noir. Therefore, the inclusion of a “Nino’s Pizzeria” as a major location in “Drive” made me wonder whether it was a
There’s very little to say in terms of criticism of “Drive.” It’s definitely not for everyone. The gore is quite intense. More than one person’s head is completely obliterated. The blood is crimson red and instantly reminded me of a B movie or a grind house flick, which are typically used as derogatory descriptions. However, when movies consciously use the elements of these movies, the result can be superb. For example, see “Pulp Fiction” (1994).
“Drive” is a great film that is a must see for anyone who considers themselves a movie buff. If you are just a casual moviegoer, “Drive” is still worth seeing. Action and romance are only garnishes on what is a poignant and meaningful film — the best I’ve seen this year.