Published Sep 15, 2011Drive feels like a '70s loner film filtered through '80s action movie sensibilities, but set in the present day. If Michael Mann were to remake Taxi Driver in 2011, it would closely resemble this work. Aesthetically, Drive is littered, with '80s styles, jean jackets, synth-pop and smoking in restaurants, but the tone is distinctly rooted in '70s American neo-noir.
The unnamed protagonist, simply referred to as "the Driver" (played by Ryan Gosling), is a stunt driver for movies by day and a getaway driver for criminals by night. His quiet stoicism is, at times, endearing and at others, threatening. When he gets involved in a heist that's sabotaged, his lust for revenge conjures his repressed violent nature (yes, the title has a double meaning), which threatens his budding romance with a neighbour (Carey Mulligan) and his relationship with her young son.
In addition to the strengths of the two leads, the supporting cast may be the coolest of the year: Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks, wonderfully playing against type as a mobster.
Drive was directed by Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson), who creates a rich, dreamlike atmosphere for the characters to inhabit. He gives as much attention to moments of silent contemplation as he does to slick car chases. Even the instances of grizzly, graphic violence are always tempered by more sensitive moments and moral reflexivity.
Drive rides the line between minimalistic and viscerally arresting, just as the character of the Driver struggles with his own duality. This is a revenge movie with a soul, and it's one of the best films of the year so far. (Alliance)