orgastic futures

Drive (2011)

I saw the movie trailer for Drive in early 2011. I was astounded. It looked like it was going to be a fantastic action film. I should it to my friend Erika and she agreed, which is a really strange thing. She rarely likes the same movies as I do and to here her excitement over this movie filled me with glee. Finally a movie that she would like. The film follows a getaway driver in L.A. as he falls in love and faces some criminal opposition. I went to see Drive the first weekend it came out (Erika did not see it despite the dozens of time I asked her to go, she was in a weird mood). I was completely unprepared for the movie at hand. Like most of the films that really grab me, its is full of contradictions. This isn’t an action film, but it is. It realistic, despite being surrealistic. A gangster movie, a love story, a western, a superhero movie, a coming of age film. All of these things and more.

Normally I would post the movie trailer here, but I don’t think that would be a good idea. Despite how it was the initial thing that made me want to see the film, it pretty much spoils everything and it is not a good representation of the tone. The trailer is so different from the film that a women even tried to sue the film company for false advertisement. I don’t think it’s a sue worthy offense, but the trailer is a little odd. So, please don’t watch the trailer. Instead watch this clip from the film.

This movie is quiet and reserved. The first half is essentially a study in minimalism. Ryan Gosling’s unnamed Driver barely speaks. His responses are short and quick, never divulging much more than is needed. The speaking pace of the Driver is also very slow and nearly monotone. He is so restrained in this performance. Gosling places the emphasis on his body language and facial expressions, which are just as subtle as every other aspect of his acting style in the film. It creates a mystery around the character and builds up what will eventually become a contrast between how the driver presents himself and what he is capable of. Because everything about Gosling’s performance is so minimalistic, everything becomes important. In the following clip, Gosling does so much more with a slight smile than a hundred words could ever do.

The clip also featured Carrie Mulligan and Bryan Cranston, whose performances are very good. Cranston’s role is energetic and talkative, placing him on the opposite side of the Gosling subtly. Cranston is not annoying or over the top, but rather the yin to Gosling’s yang. Mulligan’s performance would be considered understated in any other film, but she fall right in between Gosling and Cranston in terms of tone. The rest of cast holds up there own as well, but Albert Brooks performance is the stand out of the supporting roles. Brooks, who is most well known for his comedic qualities, is a monster here. He has done some serious films (He’s great in Out of Sight), but he is never as menacing and frightening as he is here.

The directing and cinematography is also amazing in this film. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn uses the minimalism perfectly in the first half of the film. It slow pace is mesmerizing. His decision to imbed an 80’s electronic type soundtrack and title credits displace the film in time. It is seem like it is modern day, but Refn creates a very different world in his film. Gosling has gone as far as saying that the film is a violent John Hughes movie. Around the mid point, Refn shifts from minimalism and places a very surrealistic tone on the film. It’s no surprise that he dedicated the film to Alejandro Jodorowsky, a director known for hyper surrealist and absurd films. The surrealism the is peppered in the final half of Drive is not as in your face as Jorodowsky’s style, but it is certainly noticeable. Scenes of intense physical violence are lovingly shot and juxtaposed with uncaring statuesque reactions. The music, which is a pumping electronic soundtrack throughout the film, is mysteriously replaced by a haunting operatic composition in one scene that features an unsettling choice of disguise.

When I saw this film, the theater was two thirds full. During the quiet section of the film, the audience was very talkative and was laughing at some of the lighthearted moments. Gosling’s performance also elicited some confused chuckles because of his very anti-social behavior. But almost exactly at the half way mark every shut up, stopped moving around, stopped chattering for the rest of the film. They sat in silent awe of what was progressing on the screen.

Drive should be seen with the volume really loud. Get you hands on it and see why Gosling is one of the finest actors working today.

This entry was published on April 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm. It’s filed under film, music, personal and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “Drive (2011)

  1. O yes! Thank you for posting this, Drive was the best movie of 2011 and didn’t even reveive a nod from the academy, business as usual. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I know the very second where things took a turn. I think it was an identity thing. I’ve only seen it once, and after I thought about how perceived identity differed from behaviours or actually identity in the film. Basically I think the movie is about identity. This movie will be remembered as the one that made Gosling.

    • I agree with you about the identity thing. I think the film touches on the notion of perceived identity vs actual identity from both internal and external viewpoints, which ultimately have completely different understandings. For having such a simple plot, Gosling and Refn made this film dense.

  2. Nooo, when I started reading this I thought for sure I was going to FINALLY read something that touched on how dreadfully boring this movie was. I was superincrediblypumped to see it (I will see anything Ryan Gosling has a part in). I forced my boyfriend to go with me and I fell asleep! I NEVER fall asleep during movies. (…except during Ghost Rider). Maybe I need to watch this movie again. In fact, I’m sure I do, because I honestly did not understand where the hype was coming from. It was billed as an action movie and it moved with the speed of a wounded turtle. And I remember being so annoyed that it seemed like Mulligan and Gosling’s characters fell in love without having a conversation. Just by shyly looking at each other. And I also recall not believing the characters’ motives for their actions. But again, I do need to watch it again.

    Also, do I detect a certain actorly crush on one Ms. Carey Mulligan, exhaustedwriter? I just got “An Education” from Netflix. Ever seen it?

    • I think the trailer was shockingly misleading, almost to the level of “Inglourious Basterds” (Tarantino basically tricked people in to seeing a subtitled film). You’re not alone in your dislike, only two of my friends have reacted positively to the film. I’m actually glad Erika didn’t see it. She tends to be very critical of movies not featuring Denzel Washington and falls asleep at movies anyway, so this would have been like taking a bottle full of Ambien for her.

      I go as far back as the Doctor Who episode “Blink” when it comes to Carey Mulligan. “An Education” is really good. No offense to Sandra Bullock, but Mulligan should have won that year. Also it’s Mrs. Carey Mulligan now. She married the Mumford of Mumford and Sons.

  3. Sir, I am impressed with your breadth of knowledge. Unless you’re researching everything. Then I’m impressed with your effrorts to get it right.
    The Scorpion and the Frog

    • At one point I was a film major, so I still have that stuff in my head.

      The only “research” is looking for that article where Gosling describes the film. I wanted to back up my memory of him saying that. I also wanted to talk about how the movie exploded in the Mexican market. Spanish language stations were lauding the film as the best film of the year even though I really don’t think the movie would work for that demographic. Sadly, I couldn’t find anything to back that statement up besides my memory.

  4. rigo3321 on said:

    Great movie. Been wanting to watch it for a while but it made it really hard with me being out of the country. But i rented it, blue ray and surround sound in my room FTW, and it was awesome!! Cannot wait for summer so i can start watching more movies. And as a mexican i liked it!

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