Movies – Drive

15 Sep

In Drive, the unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling) is an auto mechanic and movie stunt driver with a lucrative sideline: A client provides him a date and time. He shows up with a car, and allows the client 5 minutes. If something happens within those 5 minutes, the driver guarantees to get the client away. A minute either way, and the client is on his own.

When Driver meets his pretty neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, something stirs inside him, and he becomes involved in their lives. When Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is released from jail, Driver attempts to help him extricate himself from a bad situation, but finds everything spiraling rapidly downward.

Given that description, you would almost expect Drive to be a noisy, action-packed shoot-em-up full of action set pieces and car chases. Under the direction of Danish Nicholas Winding Refn, the movie is much quieter and contemplative, with long shots of Gosling and Mulligan just looking at each other or Gosling staring off into space. There are, of course, a few car chase scenes, including a tense opening sequence in which Driver provides getaway services for a pair of robbers, and the quiet is punctuated by a number of events of brutal, bloody violence including one murder which shocking in its novelty, if not its predictability.

If that sounds boring, it isn’t. Gosling and Mulligan convey worlds with the slightest change of expression, and both have lots of screen time and relatively little dialogue. But they don’t need much. The chemistry between them is immediate and the quiet between them feels comfortable.

The supporting cast has much more to say. As Shannon, Driver’s employer in all of his jobs, Bryan Cranston seems to hate the quiet as much as Driver embraces it. Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks play opposite sides of a small-time gangster coin, with Brooks’ Bernie cultured and avuncular and Perlman’s Nino boorish and glowering. Oscar Isaac, the flashy club owner from Sucker Punch, is subdued here as he comes to realize that Driver is an ally rather than a threat, but Christina Hendricks is wasted in a minor role.

If you’re looking for a crackling action film that runs peddle-to-the-metal from start to finish, Drive is not it. If you appreciate reflective movies with touches of action and violence, you can’t do better right now.

My score: 8 Cheeseburgers

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2 Responses to “Movies – Drive”

  1. MSAT October 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I agreed with your review for the most part, but I think the pauses/staring could have been scaled back a bit. Loved the chase at the beginning.

    • CPav November 4, 2011 at 12:33 am #

      Thanks for stopping by, Manisha! Obviously I haven’t been as active on the site as I mean to be, but that should change with the holiday movie season starting.

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