Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Drive (TIFF 2011)


A poetically violent and dark, homage to 1980s pop cinema, Drive was filled-to-the-brim with intensely maniacal action and high-speed car chases. Playing a Hollywood stunt driver, moonlighting as a getaway car wheelman, Driver (Ryan Gosling, no, we never find out his character’s real name) manages to stay calm, excruciatingly quiet and completely professional, under the most violent of circumstances. His character is instantly drawn to his neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her young son, and he spends the rest of the film possessed with protecting them. The mutual attraction is obvious, and their courtship is innocent and sweet, until we find out she has a convict hubby who's about to be released from prison.

During the Q&A following the screening, Director Nicolas Winding Refn, explained that he wanted to make the first half of Drive like a John Hughes movie and make the second half take a more dark, psychotic turn. So what starts out as a cutesy love story, with a killer Top Gun-reminiscent soundtrack, downward spirals into a crime bender with enough blood and gore to make any horror enthusiast giddy with glee.

The only downside is that we don’t get a chance to go beneath the surface of the characters we’re instantly attracted to. Who is Driver? Where did he come from and what’s he doing in L.A.? I vote for a prequel.

On a side note, the soundtrack was ridiculously amazing. Rehn mentioned that the musical style for Drive evolved while he and Ryan were riding around L.A. one night and REO Speedwagon’s, ‘Can’t Fight This Feeling’, came on the radio. Inspired by euro pop of the early 80s, he managed to add a dash of femininity to a very masculine and bloody film.

With an exceptional cast, including Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks and Christina Hendricks, Drive is a fun and unexpected thrill-ride. I came out feeling a little beat-up, but thoroughly satisfied. In theatres September 16th.

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