September 18, 2011
I've been a fan of director Nicolas Winding Refn's films for years now. Beginning with his Pusher trilogy and it's interesting to see Nicolas evolve as a filmmaker. I think Drive is one of his most accessible films which isn't saying much since he does have odd tendencies. They include limiting the dialog of his lead actor. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye was a mute while most others other than Bronson also have limited dialog. Ryan Gosling's unnamed driver nicknamed Kid is almost as silent in the film but when he does talk there is some power and awkwardness behind it. Gosling's performance was mostly body language and did give his character a bit of mystery to him.
The rest of the cast was a solid mix of veterans including an amazing performance from Albert Brooks. Brook's Bernie is one of the main baddies of the film and to see this well-known comedian go from from funny man to heavy is something to be seen. It reminded me of Robin Williams transformation in Goodwill Hunting. Bryan Cranston is also decent as the grizzled and scummy friend to Gosling. Mulligan on the other hand is all but wallpaper in the film but that very well could have been the character's role. Surprisingly Christina Hendricks' appearance was also a highlight and wished she had more screentime.
Drive's atmosphere is enhanced by the film's electronic score and use of stunning cinematography. There are moments when I feel like Refn is very close to finding his visual style that sets him apart from other visual directors like Nolan and Fincher. I also love that it looked like a majority of the stunt driving was done practically. While some of the violence effects looked more digital than usual it might have been just the cameras used. Some of the flaws were some drawn out silent scenes and establishing shots that went on a little too long.
I highly recommend seeing Drive while it's in theaters and give it a chance. While the trailers give a false sense of it being a full out action film, it's still worth checking out. You have to go in understanding there is a slow burn to the film's development and expect the violent scenes in advance.
at 11:35 PM