Movie Review: Drive (2011)

Posted: April 15, 2012 in Drama
Tags: ,

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The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt driver by day, and a getaway driver for criminals at night.  He desperately wants out of the getaway driver business.  This feeling only intensifies when he realizes a cute girl named Irene (Carey Mulligan) lives next door, with her son.  The driver’s friend, Shannon, (Bryan Cranston) has already given the driver a job in his auto body shop, but wants the driver to become a NASCAR Driver. Shannon has some shady potential investors, Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) a quiet, small-time gangster who doesn’t have a problem killing people, and Nino (Ron Perlman) a loudmouthed stone-cold killer.  The driver finds himself getting closer to Irene and her son, Benicio (Kaden Leos) But then he finds out that Irene is married to a man named Standard (Oscar Isaac).  Standard may be a convict, but he genuinely loves his wife and son.  Irene is not so sure about Standard, she seems to have moved on.  But the Diver is impressed with Standard’s sincerity, so when Standard says he has one more job to do for another small-time gangster named Cook (James Bibieri) the Driver offers to drive Standard away from the job.  What happens with the job that both Standard and the Driver hope will be their last?

This is a great movie, it’s a very gritty, unflinching, look at small-time criminals, trying to get their hands on some big money for them.  The story of a man trying to get out of a life of crime after one last job is a bit of a cliché and some of the story seems contrived, but the idea of the Driver sacrificing his own happiness for the happiness of others, that is a new wrinkle in a gangster movie.  The acting raises the level of the movie even higher.  Ryan Gosling excels as a soft-spoken, nice guy driver.  He reminds me of a Gary Cooper type,  constantly trying to do the right thing in a world that is filled with wrong.  Carey Mulligan only had one complexity to her character, does she love the driver or does she love Standard?  She handles that complexity with subtlety, a look here, a smile there and it works.  Albert Brooks is unrecognizable for those of us who recognize him as a comedian.  He was tough, and seething with anger just below the surface .  The best acting job  in a movie full of great acting is by Oscar Isaac.  The viewer expects one type of character, but gets another altogether.  But again, the anger and jealousy is smoldering, right below the surface.  The direction is also noteworthy.  I have never heard of Nicholas Winding Refn before, but he has some amazing shots in this movie.  He has a totally unique way of getting a three  shot inside a car.  It was a beautifully shot film.  It’s violent, it’s bloody, it’s brutal, but it’s also a good story artistically told.

Drive:  Drive In.

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