It isn’t often that a film is able to allocate it’s focus to so many aspects of the human condition while maintaining a cynosure that is sure to instill a deep introspection in the viewer. The plot follows the somewhat recluse life of Driver, who is confidently played by the increasingly prolific Ryan Gosling. Driver is a calm, composed Hollywood stunt-car driver who is also a mechanic for [who seems to be] his only friend, Shannon (played by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston). However, these days, working two jobs isn’t enough to keep the busy busy; so during his off hours, he is a freelance getaway chauffeur for the many criminals working in LA. *Oh, and on top of that, Shannon even tries to involve Driver in underground race circuits run by Hollywood producer-turned-mafia boss Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks), how’s that for obligations?
With a lifestyle like this one, you would think that there isn’t any time for external elements to be added, but of course, no heroic [male] personage is complete without a a feminine counterpart. Introducing Irene (portrayed by British actress Carey Mulligan) and Benicio (Kaden Leos), a mother and son hopelessly waiting for their man of the house (Standard) to be released from prison while, simultaneously, providing Driver with hope he has always yearned for. Ironically, this introduction is what sets the stage for Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn's (he won the Prix de la mise en scéne for Drive at Cannes Film Festival this year) macabre style to shine, which gives the film one of it’s most powerful attributes. The rest is yours.
Originally a book by illustrious crime writer James Sallis; the film adaptation captures the essence of a quasi-numb man searching for life (but more aptly sensation) in a realm where it is lost more frequently than it is found. Kudos to Hussein Amini (for the screenplay) and Refn for making Drive one of the most transitionally pleasant films I have ever seen.
The biggest surprise:
The soundtrack. If the viewer is struggling to derive meaning from/interpret certain scenes, the musical accompaniment will solve that problem. Before watching Drive, I had yet to experience such a natural connection between scenes of a film and their backdrop sounds. Packed with a harmonious blend of high fidelity 70’s-80’s synthesizers, minimal style drum kits, and mesmerizing vocals; the choice of a retro-pop score by Cliff Martinez (and some others) was beyond appropriate.
At first, I thought I could find some minor inadequacies, but, the only ones I ended up with were personal comments like “he/she should’ve reacted differently”. So, with petty personal differences aside, I give this film a 5/5 (*****).
My “would-be” magazine quote:
"Evocative, a beautiful balance of serenity and chaos that is internally felt on every level"