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Drive (2011) [a second opinion]

January 23, 2012

MY CALL:  Sociopathy laced with catharsis; an intense, sensory, noirish tale so tone-sensitive that one would hardly notice the plot.  I give this soul-rattling film a solid A+.

Ryan Gosling has always impressed me.  His work in Murder By Numbers, The Notebook, and Crazy Stupid Love is all gold!  So I was on board with this movie before I saw the first trailer.  Seconds into this film I noticed that the tone was not at all as expected and this very different, alluring tone persisted.  This was nothing like the action movie that the trailer suggested, but rather a film of quiet intensity.  The opening scene is a car chase.  But it is nothing like any chase you’ve seen before.  There was somehow no action—yet I found myself on the edge of my seat!

[He always has a toothpick and his bad-ass jacket]

            The plot is barely noticeable—not that I care.  Ryan Gosling plays a character who manages to go nameless throughout the film.  He drives legally by day and illegally by night, befriends his neighbor, takes a liking to her and her son, tries to help her ex-con husband, and gets caught up in a scheme-gone-wrong financed by some very powerful, very bad people.

[“Hey, can I keep this jacket?]

            The film ends with a strange sense of catharsis and an overwhelming desire to download the movie’s most notable recurring, 80s-reminiscent track (A Real Hero by College featuring Electric Youth) which, like most of the score, was haunting in a most invited way—not unlike the film itself.  The emotional content was dramatically bipolar.  Some very soothing, almost lulling moments with Ryan Gosling are crossed with the all too real sociopathy delivered by Albert Brooks…and occasionally Gosling as well.  Punctuating this unsubtle psychological element are surprisingly unbrief scenes of extreme, visceral violence.

The makers of this film clearly took a lot of risks, all of which clearly paid off.  127 Hours and Sunshine were movies that were designed and advertised as very sensory experiences.  The score and careful use of lighting and color correction permitted the engineering of audio-visual experiences of previously unimagined architecture.  Conversely, the stylishly similar Drive was advertised as a modern-noir, taciturn antihero leading a double life which smacks of a much more serious take on The Transporter.

By now you may have noticed that I made no mention of Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Carey Mulligan (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) or Ron Perlman (Bunraku, Outlander, Hellboy).  Why?  They’re really just pawns in the sociopathic duel engaged by Gosling and Brooks.  It’s no fault of the other actors.  These two simply stole all the scenes.  I couldn’t endorse this movie more!

[“How much do you want for that jacket?”]

So go online and find out where Gosling got that sleek, bitchin’ jacket, cross your fingers that Drive wins an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor Albert Brooks, and hop on Amazon to buy this movie on Blu-Ray on its January 31st release!

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