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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Review: Drive (18) ★★★★★
A mysterious Hollywood stuntman, mechanic and getaway driver lands himself in trouble when he helps out his neighbour.

Is Drive the coolest film of 2011? If you believe the hype, then yes. But Drive is much more than this.
What Drive manages to do is show how to craft a brilliantly slow paced work of cinema that both enthrals and shocks its audience in equal measure.

Make no bones about it; Drive is not your non-stop roller-coaster ride of thrills and spills, fast and furious type film its first trailer portrayed it to be (and was rightly lambasted by the film makers). No, this is a character study centred on one intriguing individual that we learn very little about as the film unfolds.

What we have here is a character lifted straight from a classic Eastwood western and dropped directly into eighties Americana. Similar factors are instantly recognisable such as, his name is never revealed, he has the same anti-hero sentiments, he’s a difficult person to like with no outright clear motive and, of course, he has an uber cool scorpion jacket. Okay so the last one isn’t quite true, but you get my drift.

What starts out as a straight forward crime movie - we follow the character as he acts as the getaway driver for a small heist - turns into a interweaving revenge story hinged around a low-level mob boss and our hero’s (I think we can call him that) relationship with a mother, her son and her recently released from Joliet husband.

The film sets up each set-piece at its own pace, never rushing and always with a slight tinge of dread. You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen with our hero, will he do the right thing, or in fact do something quite despicable. It’s got such a great style that it never veers from what it wants to be and never lends itself to one particular genre. It’s on its own and it thrives for it.

In part this is down to its director, who obviously had to have a clear idea what he wanted and must have resisted plenty of studio interference, but also pays a huge debt to both its cinematographer and its lead actor.

Ryan Gosling nails this. On paper this character must have been an interesting person to play. Cold, emotionless, distance, a small amount of dialogue and a vicious temper, but how could you possible play it and keep the audience on your side? I don’t know how but Gosling hits it out of the park. It’s all about restraint one moment and utter rage the next. Balance maybe key but tipped either side and you feel this character could fall apart.

Dripping with style and substance, a leisurely pace that never loses your attention, a central character with real interest and some of the coolest dialogue since Tarantino came on the scene, make this a must see.


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