Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is aesthetically satisfying, absurd, and compelling throughout. In short, Drive is a must-see film.
A Hollywood stunt car driver moonlights as a getaway driver for hire by night. When he moves into a new building, he meets neighbour Irene and her young son Benicio. Initially hoping to form a friendship with the pair, the driver gets into a lot of trouble when he tries to help out the family…
Based on James Sallis’ novel, Hossein Amini’s screenplay is fairly light. More precedence is given to the look and the feel of Drive. The narrative is fairly straightforward, with more emphasis placed on action rather than speech. Notwithstanding, the film offers tension, as well as reflection.
The dialogue in Drive is very restrained. This is not just limited to the protagonist; Irene in particular seems also to say very little. There is a conspicuous attempt to convey only what is necessary through speech. The lack of dialogue allows the action to breathe in some scenes. Moreover, so much is conveyed by the expressions of the characters that speech is not really necessary.
Drive‘s violence is reserved for a select number of scenes rather than being a consistent feature of the film. When is does rear its head, the violence is incredibly graphic. Although it can be shocking, it never feels gratuitous in the same way as a torture-porn film. Instead, the portrayal of violence is in keeping with the style of Refn’s film.
From the film’s opening credits, it is clear that aesthetics are going to be incredibly important. The hot pink typefont suggests a throwback to the 1980s. This is further reinforced by the choice of soundtrack. Songs such as College’s ‘A Real Hero’ are great, and reminiscent of eighties synth music.
The costumes in Drive also feed into this stylistic theme. The attire of the protagonist is incredibly important in depicting his character. The other characters also appear to be dressed in a particular style, not modern but not distinctly from a specific period either. Costume designer Erin Benach has done a terrific job with the vintage-look designs.
Ryan Gosling shows the necessary restraint in his performance. Like his co-star Carey Mulligan as Irene, so much is portrayed through looks and expressions rather than line delivery. Elsewhere, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are well cast in their respective roles.
Drive is simply a superb film. Highly recommended viewing.