“If I drive for you, you give me a time and a place. I give you a five-minute window, anything happens in that five minutes and I’m yours no matter what.”
The Driver drives for the movies, he does stunt works commissioned to Shannon (Bryan Cranston), who also supplies the cars for the movie industry. Shannon walks with a limp, which probably points to a history doing the same work The Driver does now. The Driver has a quiet demeanor and selfless work ethic. He works extra hours as a mechanic at Shannon’s garage. As if those aren’t enough jobs, he also drives robbers. Unlike a lot of heist movies where robbers are a tight unit all in on the deal, Drive takes a different route.
Robbers outsource the driving work to The Driver and he drives them in and out of their ‘jobs.’ His work is to make sure they come out of the situation with as little interference from the cops as possible. With a one-way radio, he outwits the cops, smartly, not driving around the city, burning rubber and hitting grocery stands. In fact, in some of the police chases, he seemed to be doing less than 35 miles an hour.
Shannon has bigger dreams and notices potential in The Driver. So much so that he convinces local ‘mogul’ and former film producer, Bernie, to help him get into the professional racing business. Meanwhile, The Driver starts getting close to his neighbor, who is a single mother to Benicio, who he also seems to be connecting with. Awkwardness and complication ensue when the kid’s father, Standard, returns from jail.
Drive is one of those films that you either really like, or you don’t at all. And mostly, it’s don’t at all. That is a little understandable, the trailer and the title being somewhat misleading. But I think if you’ve followed Gosling’s career or know the kind of films Nicolas Winding Refn does, then you would’ve known what to expect. I understand the people who don’t like it because it didn’t have a lot of driving in it (I mean, the main character’s name is The Driver), but I’m not sure if the film is really as slow as people have said. I would like to call what they experienced ‘subtleness.’
I found the whole film exciting, from start to finish, full of suspense, mostly emotional, though. I know a fast-moving film for a lot of people involves guns and explosions, and (understandably in this case) high speed car chases. The only ones that come along are a couple of car chases but only one is even close to exciting. I particular loved the sequence where a car hits barriers on the road. The point-of-view is from inside the car in the front. I realized I’d never actually seen such a shot in a film. This and other aspects make Drive a not so conventional film.
Drive’s best asset is the story. I felt that maybe the title comes from the main character’s disposition. His focus and precision is what has kept him disciplined in his work and in the challenge that is presented to him in the middle of the film. The choices he makes are well defined by his drive whereas for a mere being like me, it would present a dilemma.
When the performances of characters in a film are very in tune with each other, none seeming over-the-top more than the other, I feel like it’s the director’s doing. There’s some individuality and maybe polarity in the performances but they all seem to come from the same DNA. The Driver’s quiet nature, Shannon’s excited giddiness all somewhat find a place in a mellow but exciting film. And that would explain his best director prize at this year’s Cannes.
Benicio (Kaden Leos) and Irene (Carrey Mulligan) are adorable. Heartthrob, Rob Perlman’s Nino is menacing as he should be alongside Albert Brooks Bernie. You’d expect Standard to be repulsive, because in such a movie, it’s the only way there would be a happy ending (The Driver ending up with Irene) but in this film, it’s different. In fact, you hope that he’ll come out of the situation. When it was very easy not to, the writer creates a sympathetic character out of him, which helps in further complicating the situation and in so doing, creating a unique storyline.
Gosling is almost always quiet and seems to be those people who never have filler words in their brains. Only speaks when absolutely necessary. For some reason you get used to the mouth on his innocent-looking face producing some bad-ass threats.
If I was to point out anything remotely negative about the film, maybe the music. It was really good but sometimes it never really seemed like the kind of stuff you want in the film. The score was good, especially when it was punctuated by The Drivers rubbery gloves squeezing into his hands. And who else can make a shiny silver jacket look manly.
NB: One more thing, is it me or is Christina Hendricks, who plays Blanche in this movie, built like an African woman?