Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Drive Review

Greetings Internet!  The Bearded Bullet is back with a review for what I consider to be the best film of the year so far: Drive.

Nicholas Winding Refn's (Valhalla Rising, Bronson, The Pusher trilogy) latest directorial debut is a fine piece of art; if you are looking for a fast-paced action thrill ride you'll have to look elsewhere (perhaps this year's excellent Fast Five?).  The simplest distillation of the plot is such: Ryan Gosling's Driver (his name is never given) is a stunt-driver by day and getaway-driver by night.  He gets involved with some pretty ruthless individuals over a heist-gone-wrong.  That's the basic plot, but there is much more to this film than just a heist.

Most commonly emotion, feelings, and thoughts are expressed through dialogue, and of course, through an actor's portrayal of said feelings.  Refn slows down the film to focus on the non-dialogue; long scenes and takes of the main characters (Gosling and Carey Mulligan) staring/looking at one another/ into the distance.  I really appreciated these scenes in a summer dominated by bombastic action films.  Long pauses and silences give you time to think, and more importantly, figure out what the characters are feeling or going through, rather than being told.  Gosling's Driver is one of my favorite characters to have been on screen in a long time.  He doesn't say much, but when he speaks there is purpose to what he says.  Same go for his actions.  He is quiet and serene until the situation demands for him to act, and act he does.  Judging by the way the Driver dresses, talks, and acts, it would seem that he consciously decided to personify the type of action star he is standing-in for during his day job.  The dialogue he delivers before each heist reinforces this sort of, persona, that he has taken on.  It almost seems as though he is acting in his real life.

Paired brilliantly with the slow, purposeful dialogue is insane, intense, thrilling action sequences (of which, I say, I wish there were more of).  Refn shows a mastery at staging and executing action set-pieces where the audience can clearly see what's happening.  If you don't particularly enjoy or are offended by extreme violence, Drive is not for you.  That said, the film as a whole is absolutely fantastic.  The editing, cinematography (amazing shots from within Gosling's car), acting, story, and importantly the soundtrack/score was incredible.  1980s-style synth-pop tracks are peppered throughout the film - if you pay attention to the lyrics the songs fit perfectly.

Drive is a plodding, methodical drama with splashes of intense violence and amazing action.  Fantastic performances and an amazing soundtrack put Drive above all other films (so far) in 2011.

Drive is unequivocally, immensely, Radtastic.

The Bearded Bullet drives off into the sunset...

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