I’ve managed to miss every single one of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous movies (Bronson being perhaps the best known) and typically his scores are mediocre on IMDB, which suggests his perchance for violence (he cites Texas Chainsaw Massacre as an influence) has divided his audiences to date.
Not so in this one.
At the time of writing Drive is recording a whopping 8.4 on the movie bible score meter.
And with justice.
Refn now sports a Cannes Best Director gong on his mantlepiece and it feels justified because this movie has been crafted to within an inch of its life. This is a real director’s labour of love; from The Michael Mannesque, super saturated, ultra crisp LA at night cinematography to the uber mannered acting, fantastic casting, sparse as Ebeneezer Scrooge’s pantry script (he wrote it) and ASTONISHING soundtrack (surely the Oscar winner already).
It’s languid, propped up by very little dialogue but driven by the aforementioned score that oozes class, from the opening and closing songs to the underscore by Cliff Martinez that builds tension relentlessly. It’s a tribute to the 80’s with echoes of Moroder, Kraftwerk, Eno, early Human League and more recently My Bloody Valentine and Mogwai. Astounding. That gets a straight ten in my book.
But of course that’s not what everyone’s talking about.
They’re talking about Ryan Gosling as the unnamed, unblinking, unflinching eponymous driver.
Ryan Gosling is amazing in this movie and while there are brilliant supporting roles from the touchingly understated Carey Mulligan as the love interest, Albert Brooks (nasty as the lead baddie with a tiny little bit of a heart) and Ron Perlman (neanderthal, wicked, compelling…gorgeous in a way) it’s Gosling all the way. The performance of his career surely (great as he was in Blue Valentine, and I’ve not seen him in the much lauded Ides of March yet, but I will) he commands the screen with not a blink of his eye from start till end, well actually at the end there is a wee blink. This is a tour de force performance and I loved it.
The violence is excellent. Slow to come to the boil but shocking and visceral upon arrival.
The driving is not overdone. Chase movies (except Ronan) are so tedious.
The love story is well developed but never gets in the way.
And the moral? Heroes come in all shapes and forms because this is surely a hero movie wrapped up in a complex web of antiheroes.
Very strongly recommended. 8.5 out of 10.