Saturday, October 01, 2011

"Drive" (2011) - Movie Review

Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” is the lone assassin film disguised as an action flick. While in real life we would negate and discard them as the creeps with little to no communication, the film’s unnamed Driver (Ryan Gosling) is filled with mysticism that invites interest and intrigue in its viewers. He is not good but resembles one, he is not bad but again resembles one. He is tacit, clear and precise. The film brilliantly features the first scene to set his philosophy and skill. He is not a rash Hollywood infected driver rather the smartest one. He is damn good at his job and he is dutifully modest except when he is driving.

Having seen Refn’s debut “Pusher”, I can say that he is a director of characters moulding the film into their life. “Pusher” might be the film wherein you can feel the central character’s predicament with no escape whatsoever and see how he wanders outside of that in the every day life trying to fix it with deliberate awareness of the end. “Drive” is nothing like “Pusher” especially when it comes to the organization of the simplest story. It exploits to the fullest extent on the medium it is on and only takes the necessary reality or provides a guise of reality in the car stunts which we have been numbed by the CGI injection.

The Driver in the film knows the cars, knows LA and knows the ins and outs and everything in between. He part times as a getaway driver and gives five minutes to his clients a.k.a robbers, that is all he can give and they can be assured he would evade any cops, on the ground, up the air and through the darkness. He also part times as a stunt man for movies and works full time for his employer Shannon (Bryan Cranston) at his garage. Movies of lone expertsmen focusses on a life of nothingness devoid of emotions, friends and social semblance. Movies of that nature makes it a point to be very pertinent of that part of their life. “Drive” has it as a background as we know that this man lives in a zone within himself.

Yet every man is as human as the next one when the heart stops a beat for a beauty and an opportunity for a social life. Such comes as his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), mother of an adorable young boy Benicio (Kaden Leos). The establishment of their relation assumes the knowledge of the viewer of seeing several films. They cross path sharing an elevator. He is spectacularly handsome and she is an angel fallen from the sky. He sees her in the super market and chooses to skip the aisle away from her. He comes outside and hesitates, goes to help her smoking engine. Next scene he is carrying her groceries in the elevator with Benicio staring at him curiously. The viewers fill in the gap. That is the simplicity and the terseness of “Drive” which does not sweat on the details and at the same time does not disregard the emotional bond that develops between these two.

Look the font and design of the title - pink in colour reeking Los Angeles out of it with a 70ish outlook. It is a rare mix of glamour with stillness. Tension is in the background score of Cliff Martinez constantly reminding of the imminent violence that is going to be splattered across our face. The Driver is methodical and has a purpose in every action. Each action needs completion to the highest degree of perfection. His anger, sadness, agony, love, pain and acceptance are marked with an acknowledgment on his face. Ryan Gosling’s mystical character has a total of not more than 15-20 lines in the overall film but he uses his charm as a presence to his character. His voice appears as a monotone but has subtlety of emotions waving through it. He exactly knows what he is doing and the others don’t. That makes him deadly.

“Drive” is like the last year’s assassin film “The American” that laboriously goes through the slow ordeal of wait and patience in George Clooney’s silent killer. Both men are sad lonely people looking for love though the Driver in “Drive” has better trust over his love than the killer in “The American”. I think when you are an assassin like Clooney in that film, it comes with the package. Refn’s film is a meditation in completion and executes that philosophy of accepting life’s events for what it is and begin working through it that is imbibed by the central character.

As the story progresses into the eventual heist going wrong putting our man in the centre of blood, gore and utter violence, we are introduced to two mob bosses Bernie (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Pearlman). Bernie is suave, classy with the sneakiness but also is violent when he wants to be. He shares emotions and his job comes with that territory as well. He kills with anger most of the times and sometimes with an empathy. Albert Brooks provides the strong villain the film needs for the Driver to challenge upon and we know that Bernie is capable of being successful over the protagonist effortlessly.

“Drive” might disappoint someone going in with the expectation of R-rated action with car chases through one way rash driving and blowing up of unnecessary random vehicles. But if they open their mind to this film that very well knows that it is a film than anything else, they get exposed to the R-rated violence that is out there to present the characters and the extension of their behaviour into the ugliness of the inhumane. Refn gives an unusual flick that exemplifies the possibility for an artsy presentation of a genre known for being dumb and lacking creativity be prolific and inventive.

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