Watched Nov 04, 2011
Morgan Nichol’s review:
Anyone expecting The Fast and the Furious is going to feel like they were slapped. Just like there are some fights in Fight Club, there is some driving in Drive - is there ever - but it's not what the film is about, not really. It's just an element, something that happens while the story is playing out.
The Driver is played by Ryan Gosling, almost mute through long stretches of the film, but with a ready smile. It's not initially apparent, but his silence is of the same ilk as Javier Bardem's in No Country For Old Men. This is a man who can be very serious indeed.
Astonishing bouts of ultraviolence are interspersed amongst periods of intense pressure, periods populated with a special mix of terrifying malevolent bastards, incredibly close calls with the police, and a sweetheart leading lady (Carey Mulligan) who looks about 15 but who really puts herself up on screen - the sexual energy oozing from the scene in the car when she puts her hand on the Driver's fairly buzzes.
It's a strong reminder of simpler times - remember how exciting the hope of an impending kiss was when we were all young? Now most of us can't even pretend to be interested unless we're engaging in the sort of depraved behaviour that rises you up the ranks of the Catholic church.
Drive as a whole certainly isn't reminiscent of youth, but that simple touch was something sweet, something infinitely hopeful. Lovely and loving and vulnerable.
The progression of that jacket, beginning as a symbol that appeared to give away a degree of childishness, of delusions of some absent grandeur, and perhaps a pointer to the social awkwardness of the driver, but it quickly turns instead into the canvas of the man's own soul, splattered with the incidental doodlings of death, revealing the strength of his character with every stroke of a bloody brush.
What an amazing device.
There are some oddities with the pacing, but I don't think that prevents this from being an extraordinary film as I think they're more like the oddities of 2001, than a signifier of some failing of the craft on the part of the filmmakers - director Nicholas Winding Refn did win Best Director at Cannes, after all.
The ending is likely to be disappointing for many - I waited fruitlessly through the credits, hoping for a little closure. It never came, so let's all just agree to hope for the best for everyone.
Also weird: that typeface. To begin with Mistral will confuse people: is this the 1980s? Then it might anger them: why is this SO PINK?! And then they'll come to an uneasy truce with it. What you're seeing is deeply ironic misdirection, with perhaps a subtle acknowledgement some of the influences of the film. Or so I like to think. Maybe I'm being generous.