‘Drive’ Blu-Ray Review

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Byran Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks, Ron Pearlman

Plot: Not much like The Fast and the Furious at all.

Review: Having put the low budget, simply made indie film Drive on the highest quality resolution possible it changes the viewing experience somewhat. It makes Refn’s work as a director even more amazing. Did his Oscar nomination get lost in the mail or something? This is without a doubt the biggest misfire by the academy since, well, last year when Sam Rockwell didn’t get an actor nom for Moon.

The movies revolves around the actions and consequences for a mysterious, nameless stunt/getaway driver played by Ryan Gosling. Leading a simple life, the character doesn’t seem to have much life when not behind a wheel. He’s essentially a closed book to both the other characters and the viewers seeming to exist as an extension of whichever automobile he happens to be driving at the time. When he is driving it’s tight and controlled and one of the view times his facade begins to crack. Gosling is brilliant in the role, making it one of three great performances he put in for 2011. From his impassive face through to pulling of a white leather jacket, there’s not another man alive who could play this role.

Not that he carries the film – he’s supported by one of the best ensembles seen in recent cinema. Carey Mulligan is living on the cusp of super-stardom having put in amazing performances here and in Never Let Me Go, An Education and Shame. It’s easy to believe that she’s getting courted by every major casting agent and studio as you are reading this. Christina Hendricks and Byran Cranston both make the leap from television with ease, performing like veterans of the big screen while Albert Brooks and Ron Pearlman add the requisite menace for the villain roles.

It’s great to see a movie that tells a story in shades of grey. While Hollywood is determined to have a clear cut good guy and bad guy it’s refreshing to be challenged by something other than a pretentious art film. Drive delivers everything a Hollywood blockbuster wants to – intense action, a driven protagonist and a romantic sub-plot – but populates it with characters who don’t stand around explaining their motivations and thought processes. Refn tells the story through visuals and performances, not getting bogged down in backstory and getting in-depth with the motivations. Everything we need to know about the characters is read of their faces and everything else comes from the masterful direction.

Refn isn’t just a director who knows how to handle a camera. He knows how to manage an entire screen. Every inch of the movie is under his control. Even a relatively simple scene, such as the scene in the diner where we first get a glimpse into the driver’s menacing side, is such a gripping two minutes that it would be the stand out sequence in any other movie. In Drive it is just another part of the other picture. The few actual driving scene takes an unconventional approach, keeping the camera tight to the actors faces or the cars, rarely breaking away to a wide shot. Whilst this doesn’t seem logical on paper it creates heart-stopping sequences that stun the viewer no matter how many times there are rewatched.

Also, this scene.

Drive is a movie that switches between surreal scenes of simple emotions and brutal, startling violence. It doesn’t pose many questions and provides less in the way of answers. And it is, without a doubt, one of the best made films in years. No wonder he made the Top 10 Directors of the Now list.

Review: NINE outta TEN