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Film Review: Drive

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by Matt Elliot Taylor (subscribe)
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
Event: -
Theatrical Poster (Copyright FilmDistrict)

"What do you do?" "...I Drive..." utters the cold and mysterious Ryan Gosling as The Driver.

He is a Hollywood stunt driver by day, and a getaway driver for armed heists by night. He meets his neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her 10-year-old son, and they take an instant liking to one another, but when the father Standard (Oscar Isaac) comes home, The Driver must participate in a heist that will inevitably go horribly wrong. Now The Driver is on the run with a contract on his head, and must become the deliverer of justice to some pretty ruthless bad guys.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, whose previous films include Bronson (2008) and Valhalla Rising (2009), and written by Hossein Amini based on James Sallis' book, Drive is a subtle yet destructive tale of a driver-turned-vigilante. The pace is slow and steady and Refn manages to walk this brilliant tightrope where he's telling the audience everything without telling them anything. The film is filled with scenes that are often one slow dolly shot with no dialogue, probing the audience to invent for themselves what they think the subtext is and what their internal monologues are saying. This very ethereal and abstract aesthetic is occasionally (and more frequently towards the end) broken with sudden bursts of violence reminiscent of David Michod's Animal Kingdom(2010). The steady and European-esque quality of the way it's presented (Refn is afterall Danish) is matched beautifully with a steady-beating 1980s techno pop soundtrack which - along with the cursive pink font used for the credits - will remind Gen-Y viewers of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

What is really to marvel at here is Ryan Gosling. He is rapidly becoming the next big young actor that can do anything, and his focus and composure as the film's hero is so engaging that you're lost in his world, lost in his pursuit of happiness as he roams the seemingly quiet streets of Los Angeles. All the supporting roles are strong, with Mulligan, Isaac, Albert Brook's in one of his more darker parts in recent years, and an excellent but under-used turn from Bryan Cranston.

This is not your average action-thriller. Moreover, this is probably not really an action film at all with it's steady pace, minimal dialogue, music video look, and few car scenes that - like the whole story - move steady until we're met with a sudden burst of action just like the famous pursuit from Peter Yates' Bullitt (1968). But what's especially refreshing is the absence of CGI. What you see is what you get with Refn's latest effort and with a runtime of just over 90 minutes, you'll feel like it's longer, but when it's over you'll ask yourself "is that it?"

**** out of *****

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Why? To see Ryan Gosling is fine form.
When: From 16 September (USA), 23 September (UK), 27 October (Australia)
Where: Your local cinema
Cost: Check your local cinema for details
Hey Matthew,
What a great review. I've been hearing so much about this film lately. Ryan Gosling sure is getting a lot of praise lately isn't it? Not that he doesn't deserve it of course.

After reading your review I can't wait to see the film. Looking forward to it :)
By Daniella - senior reviewer
Thursday, 13th of October @ 02:53 pm
G'day Daniella - thank you for your kind words :) Yes, Ryan Gosling just has a tremendous presence on-screen. He is indeed a main reason to see this film.
By Matt Elliot Taylor - senior reviewer
Thursday, 13th of October @ 11:04 pm
Wow. This movie sounds like a nice movie with little action. Any movie with a plot like that sounds interesting. I almost mistook the guy in the picture to be Shia LaBeouf , that main character from the Transformer movies. I searched Ryan Gosling up and realised I'd seen him before. (Remember the Titans and Young Hercules). Nice review.
By David - senior reviewer
Wednesday, 2nd of November @ 11:00 am
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