Drive ★★★★½


Fourth viewing, no change. Always afraid that I'll come back to this one day and end up hating it. Happy to report that today was not that day; in fact, I think I adore it more than ever, and my appreciation for it has undoubtedly waxed after having seen—and largely despised—Nicholas Winding Refn's two subsequent DRIVE-adjunct/wannabe followups (ONLY GOD FORGIVES and THE NEON DEMON). Seems he captured lightning in a bottle with this one, crossbreeding particular aesthetic and auricular strands that—for reasons mostly inexplicable to me—just "work." He balances along the border of indulgence, but never actually crosses it; even the ultra-violent inserts are carefully sundered, avoiding superfluity but adequately transcending the film beyond logic without feeling maladroit in its attempt to do so. And that's what must be done to enjoy DRIVE; it's essentially a folk lore come to life, not too dissimilar ("thematically," that is) from Leone's DOLLARS Trilogy w.r.t. the unsung, nameless hero with a skewed—but still admirable—moral compass, seemingly invincible as he treads consistently along the precipice of danger. No matter what, though, I can't ignore the hex this holds me under for 100 consecutive minutes, flourished with so many brilliant choices from Refn—subconsciously or otherwise—like the orange/teal filter that bleeds through every frame, juxtaposing shots within the same scene, blending at all the right moments. Or the ingenious decision to tether the camera to the getaway Mustang while a pawn shop robbery takes place, realizing that there's more tension to be harvested from the driver on the outside—amidst the crackling of the leather gloves, the ticking of the wristwatch, the anonymity of the Chrysler 300—who's got no clue what's actually going on inside. Gosling's listless antihero is obviously great, but I never realized how amazing Carey Mulligan's facial expressions are until this last revisit; the series of cuts from Isaac's toast to her reluctant half-smile to Gosling working in his basement nearly took my breath away. As do a number of scenes, really, including the splice from Gosling getting stabbed in parking lot to ten minutes prior, talking to Brooks in the restaurant as a gentle smirk creeps over his face. Will never forget the first time I saw this in theaters and thought for sure the driver was dead; I still hold my breath, anxiously awaiting that gorgeously forestalled blink.

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