|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
Drive is a full-throttle experience...
The Director of 2008's Bronson and 2009's Valhalla Rising, Nicolas Winding Refn, returns with equally dark blood-soaked subject-matter in his slick adaptation of James Sallis's 2011 book, Drive.
Winding Refn instantly gets our attention with a masterfully choreographed opening title sequence introducing his nameless hero. Giving his criminally-minded “clients” a rigid “five minute window”, he acts as getaway driver using the police radio frequency to monitor their detection. His is a precise operation, silently and calmly undertook without conversing with passengers. Amplified sounds of the city - radios, helicopters, sirens and the car engine's roar - nicely contrast with the silence as our hero and his load hide-out under arches. A final police chase is accompanied by edgy suspense-building electronic music and loud radio sports commentary before we're allowed to delve further into this mysterious driver's life.
Helping his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), at the supermarket with her broken down car, is the first time we see “him” socially communicate with another person. Through this interaction we learn his “official job” is working for the movies as a stunt driver while doing jobs in a garage on the side. Driving Irene home is the beginning of a budding romance, doomed by the sudden return of her jail bird husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac).
Standard owes some dangerous criminals for protecting him during his prison stint and is soon being warned he must do a job to pay up or risk his family's safety. Finding Standard beaten one day, our hero offers his services as driver. Little does he know, the criminals Standard owes are the same ones backing him in a race his garage boss, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), has set-up.
Scriptwriter, Hossein Amini (Killshot, Shanghai), cleverly creates a well-rounded yet almost silent lead. As the driver, Ryan Gosling plays everything very carefully and cleverly, always with a trait toothpick in his mouth. The first sign of violent tendencies bubbling within comes when an old client publicly tries to elicit his services and he warns him to be quiet: “I'll kick your teeth down your throat and shut it for you”. From verbal warnings, Gosling's driver quickly emerges as a dangerous man to be on the wrong side of. Once he discovers Standard's accomplice, Blanche (a short-lived Christina Hendricks), double-crossed them, heads are blown to pieces, others stamped on and in five minutes the death toll rapidly reaches four. Despite being covered in blood, our hero remains preoccupied about Irene's safety, shows a genuine tenderness towards his garage boss and seems uninterested in the large sum of dirty money he's acquired.
The crooks Gosling faces have little redeeming features and are equally brutal. An ex-80s action film producer, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) is first introduced at the race track and revealingly tells Gosling his “hands are dirty”. Rose's business partner, Nino (Ron Perlman), runs a take-away business as a front and talks of “pussy mobiles” but is the more hot-headed and dangerous of the two.
With fear and betrayal at its heart, through fantastic use of contrasts for impact Drive creates something beautiful. Winding Refn uses a strong silent nameless hero who is determined to protect innocence as the basis for a pure and doomed love story. Gosling's character clearly has a dodgy past and through getting involved in a battle that isn't his, awakens a beast inside, once again throwing his life into chaos. Standard poignantly says a “second chance is rare” but one can't help wonder if the nameless hero of Drive is cat-like with nine lives/chances. With the film's ambiguous ending, we can only hope he's not on his last.
Winding Refn surrounds his characters with the neon-lit streets of LA, giving Drive an almost 80s retro feel, accompanied by a perfectly-pitched soundtrack from TV/film composer, Cliff Martinez. Circular panning views of LA's night-scape introduce us to our hero's seedy life. From fast-paced dusty car chases to intimate moments in a lift, Drive is as carefully executed as its lead's getaways.
DVD Special Features Include:
• Q & A with Director Nicolas Winding Refn
• Tv Spot
• Theatrical Trailer
A self-confessed “fetish filmmaker” who makes genre movies and is interested in fairytales and existentialism, Nicolas Winding Refn makes films he'd like to see. His fascinating apres-screening Q & A reveals him to be a modest man with a sense of humour. Unlike some Q & As, a lot is packed into 40 minutes with questions later opened up to the audience.
Beginning with an apology for saying “Fuck” live on the BBC (apparently the first time in ten years the “F” word has been used on the BBC before lunch), Refn answers questions relating to the different attitudes between sex and violence in the film; character sources; changes from the book and influences these changes had on characterisation; casting problems and decisions; patterns in genre and characters in his movies; costume/music/sound choices; his relationship and history with actors and specific scene inspirations. What is most interesting and memorable from this fast-moving session is his very honest tale of meeting Gosling for the first time. Other features are fairly standard, including a Gallery combining TV stills and poster concepts nicely set to music.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Hossein Amini, James Sallis
Release Date: January 30 2012
Studio: Icon Home Entertainment
Running Time: 100 mins
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks
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