Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Drive

Okay, so, I finally got around to watching Drive, and I find myself left feeling... breathless. Clearly I'm a little late to this conversation, but are there really people that don't like this movie? Scratch that. Are there people who like things that are good that don't like this movie?
IMDB     Netflix
Let me start out by saying that I was sold on the buzz from this movie and have wanted to see it since it hit wide release, but from then until now I haven't been able to find a single person willing to watch it with me. Maybe because the critical acclaim turned into a less dazzling reception (I was informed while I was watching the opening credits that a woman actually tried to sue the creators because there "wasn't any driving" in the movie), but I finally decided I'd waited long enough and went into the movie alone.

Now, I can see where someone expecting Fast And Furious: Ryan Gosling would come out of this movie disappointed, but disappointed for all the reasons that I find myself still sort of in awe. The movie isn't a start-to-finish chase scene; it isn't wisecracks or dirty cops, street gangs, street races, spies, or any of the trappings of a blockbuster. But every driving scene in the movie is gut-clenchingly tense. The cinematography is elegant and beautiful, by which I mean, you can actually see the goddamn cars actually driving. Where Hollywood chase scenes have become a jumbled mash of close up shots and quick cuts, Drive is fluid - you can feel, through the camera, the beauty and precision of the main character's driving, his restraint, calmness, and presence of mind.

The film doesn't have a lot of dialogue, and I'll admit that there are a few scenes between the driver and Irene filled with such protracted uncomfortable silence I straight up do not believe two actual humans could endure it. But at the same time, that's sort of the point - it's meant to be weird, and uncomfortable, and tense. For all ten words that any two characters exchange, there are thousands conveyed and left unsaid. Gosling's nearly silent protagonist is built as someone shy and maybe unusual - restrained and perhaps with some secrets, but ultimately a good and decent guy. The rug is pulled out from under us in a heartbeat, the moment we know what all that crisp composure is holding back: we see the driver put on his gloves half a dozen times throughout the film, but this time, it's different. In that single gesture, we realize exactly what he's capable of.

Is the movie violent? Oh my god yes. But is it too violent or unnecessarily violent? I don't think so. This movie isn't Saw, it isn't torture porn, but it is amazingly brutal. Breathtakingly, beautifully brutal. The violence is graphic and savage and real, but that's exactly it - it isn't some person having to fight through a web of barbed wire, it's a man defending himself and the woman he loves by whatever means he has to. The driver doesn't carry a gun, and it turns out he doesn't need to. It's always the quiet ones.

I'm going to spoilertag this bit, because it's my very favorite part of the movie, but I'm not one for spoilers, even for a movie that's (somehow) already two years old. 



Every part of this movie is elegantly made and purposeful. The acting is divine - and, good lord, for all the previews I saw for this movie, I had no idea that Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, AND Christina Hendricks were all in this movie, too. Damn.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and call this movie a strange spiritual successor to True Romance, especially for the soundtrack that makes the unlikely romance somehow work amid the brutality. Also, I think this means I'm officially on the Gosling bandwagon. Seriously, damn. I'm going to be thinking about this movie for a while.

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