Gathering buzz (and awards) at film festivals across the world, Drive is one of director Nicolas Winding Refn first pictures to hit release under some serious weight of expectation, and delightfully, it hits every mark.
Getting by on mediocre money as a stuntman by day, Ryan Gosling plays a talented driver who moonlights as a getaway wheelman by night, but when he helps a neighbour’s husband (Isaac) out on a job, the heist goes wrong and a contract is put out on his head, as he seemingly can’t give back the bag of cash that he’s left with.
Kicking off with a wonderful soundtrack that instantly gets you in the right mood, Drive’s narrative struggles for pace at times and feels somewhat uneven in terms of plot development, but it’s so utterly stylish you can easily look beyond it’s misgivings.
Though the first car chase lacks momentum and raw energy, after that they’re much better and feel a lot like a video game, it’s the characters, however, that really set the film apart.
After bumping in his neighbour at a local store before saying a proper hello in the elevator in their block, starts a love story between the driver and Irene, played wonderfully by the charming Carey Mulligan. She’s perfect as the film’s damsel and the chemistry between the two characters is fantastic. Feeling naturally awkward in early conversation, their relationship instantly sucks you in before her husband returns from prison and the driver feels compelled to help out, if only for her. If you needed further proof Ryan Gosling is set for the A-List too, this is it.
Elsewhere Ron Perlman is devilish and intriguing alongside Albert Brooks as the film’s enemies, really across the board everyone is great, all the smaller roles are wonderfully acted, Bryan Cranston also deserving special credit.
After signing Ryan Gosling on for the lead role, in a near unheard of move, producer Marc E. Platt, offered the talented actor free choice for who he’s like to helm the whole film, and dictating Refn was a fine choice.
Directing the film in a neo-noir, arthouse style, Drive’s aesthetic is utterly appealing, an intoxicating mix of colour tone, wide-angle shots and naturalistic ideals. The film treats the audience with intelligence; it doesn’t lay everything out and instead leaves you to do a little legwork too.
Drive is the sort of film that will make you want to delve into Refn’s back catalogue, and it’ll be the real making of him in Hollywood, though for now, just go see it, and look forward to the rest later.