Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"I know a lot of guys who mess around with married women, but you're the only one I know who robs a place to pay back the husband:" Drive

Film Foray Cavalcade no. Cuarenta y Dos: Drive


It is always a surprise when movies like Drive get made that show the world for what it really is. Cold, dark, sinister and the "happy endings" to events are few and far between. I sat through this film with thoughts of Taxi Driver and the early work of Scorsese in my noodle. I am of the opinion that these films share numerous similarities and could qualify as "spiritual companions," Bence would disagree with this sentiment but I stand by this assessment. For some this would diminish the impact of Drive as its own work, however, to even enter the pantheon that was Scorsese's early work and Taxi Driver (in particular) is quite the compliment and this film does more than that. Drive is an amazing piece of cinema that we shant see anytime in the future.

Drive is a film about a young unnamed part-time stunt driver/ mechanic (Ryan Gosling), who moonlights as a getaway driver. For five minutes, he is yours (he will help you elude anyone... Police, other criminals etc), after that you are on your own. The Driver epitomizes loneliness, yet, he yearns to be part of a family. He gets this chance when he befriends (and ultimately becomes romantically attracted to) Irene (Carey Mulligan) and when her husband is threatened after returning home from prison, he decides to offer his assistance to him. He offers to be the driver for a robbery that eventually goes wrong and results in the death of Irene's husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac). The Driver attempts to return the money in a bid to protect Irene and her son from harm (which is rebuked) forcing him to adopt the most severe of methods to protect them.

The themes of loneliness and the bid to be accepted are similar to those of Taxi Driver, as is the portrayal of a major metropolis being "alive" but also violence that reside below the surface (and goes unnoticed by the general public). Hossein Amini does an exemplary job at juggling them while creating a cinematic character that while capable of extreme violence could still be received by the audience. Building upon the screenplay, the performances that are stem from it were nothing short of amazing. While Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks (in particular) have been singled out for recognition for their roles and participation, Drive has a spectacular supporting cast.

Moreover, Nicolas Winding Refn was able to cast well-known actors (Bryan Cranston and Christina Hendricks in particular) into small roles that one would assume would be beneath them especially if one considers what happens to their characters. Yet, their performances while short were some of the best of the year and worth recognizing. Overall, while I was teaching in Tucson, I saw many films and none of them resonated with me as much as Drive. It will be curious to see if it gets singled out for anything other than Brook's performance by the academy and honestly, I doubt it will. Which is a shame because Drive is one of the best films of the year. Also, if Bronson and Drive are any indication, Nicolas Winding Refn will be a name known by a majority of the English-speaking cinema soon enough.

Parting thought:
Hawk brought my attention to Quentin Tarantino's top 11 films of the year and I viewed the article on Flipboard. Basically, Tarantino highlights his jealousy for the film by naming it a "nice try." Seriously, you thought that Young Adult, The Three Musketeers and My Idiot Brother were better? It seems that Tarantino is too petty to recognize a filmmaker that is superior to himself or a film that is better than anything he has done in recent memory.

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