Okay, I admit that there are times when going into a film cold (i.e. knowing absolutely nothing about it, the way I prefer to watch a film) can be dangerous. Drive is a perfect example. All I knew was that it was getting good reviews and it starred Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. That’s all I needed to know to rush out to my nearest cinema - or so I thought.
Drive is a beautifully-filmed, quiet and original thriller. Sounds great so far. It is also a very dark, very intense, stylistic (in a European way) neo-noir film. Slightly more risky, but for me we are still on very safe ground. Then it gets violent - extremely and disturbingly violent. That the violence is disturbing is both good and bad. Violence should be disturbing, but I’m not a fan of watching disturbing violence and I wasn’t expecting it.
Drive is the story of a nameless stunt driver/mechanic, played very well by Ryan Gosling. Dark and intense are also the words that best describe this driver. From the opening line, we know he is an intense guy and it does not take long to recognize that there is something a little too intense about him, something that hints at a dark past. When he meets his new neighbour, Irene (Mulligan in another great role), light enters his life for a few days, until Irene’s husband returns from prison. Then Drive takes a sharp turn into a back alley most of you will want to avoid.
For me, Drive was not a fun ride but it was certainly captivating to watch, with great performances by all concerned (besides Gosling and Mulligan, both Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks were standouts), wonderful cinematography, a good soundtrack (though it features a song called “A Real Hero” which was almost as disturbing as the violence), an original screenplay (and solid direction) by Nicolas Winding Refn and lots and lots of style. So it just has to get ***+. My mug is up for some classic film-making, but the violence will keep it out of my top ten.