Like I said a week ago with my review of the Artist, it is hard to avoid Oscar buzz, commentaries, and analysis. I will not debate with anyone what the significance that the Oscars holds on the movie industry, but at the end of the day only my opinion matters (at least to myself). I thought that Drive should have at least have been nominated for best picture, best direction and best supporting actors for both Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman. I think this because I loved the film very much. I know that is probably no surprise to you.
Ryan Gosling plays a man who has no real past, no real future and no real personality. All he does is drive and fix cars really well. He is isolated, cut off, and his only friend (the brilliant Bryan Cranston) takes advantage of him at every turn of his wheel. Then he meets a girl. This girl happens to be his neighbor, happens to have a child and happens to be connected with an ex-con who is just getting out of prison. He falls in love with her and with her child and when this man comes back into the woman’s life, he helps him out because of her. His emotions become involved and therefore everything goes wrong.
This film reminded me a lot of Le Samourai, especially the opening scene of him in looking at all of the cars in the garage. The showing of process and the break down of this precious process is what makes this film fascinating. There is a process that the Driver has when pulling off a job, a process to Bryan Cranston negotiating for the Driver, a process to Albert Brooks making sure that he is not connected to anything. It is beautiful.
With Refn you get unflinching violence, sparse language, and atmosphere. This atmosphere was so evocative of L.A. sleeziness it was amazing to learn that he had barely set foot in the town before he started pre-production of the this film. From the sugar sweet soundtrack, the slick roads, the beautiful garage full of muscle cars and the grim that is associated with mechanics, mob people owning a pizza place despite being Jewish, all evoke a time a place and a mentality that this Driver has stepped into and doesn’t seem to belong. Also you get some amazing kill scenes. How Christina Hendricks’ character dies is awesome in only the way that Refn can be awesome.
Although I credit Refn with most of the production, this whole film would have fallen apart if it was dealt to poorer actors. There has been many words inked on the internets about Albert Brooks performance and I agree with all of it. But not much has been said about Ron Perlman. Although he is in a pretty minor role, he pulled off gruff paradoxes the only way he can. A Jew owning a pizza joint, stealing from his own people and framing various people for it, pursuing this man with a vengeance that looking at his face would never betray is all really interesting. Carey Mulligan as the young woman who the Driver falls in love with portrays tenderness in so little words that any other actor (like a Keira Knightly for instance) would have failed at. Ryan Gosling I hate to admit I really liked in this role. His expressions from the beginning only changed slightly to denote his changing feelings and yet you understood how he felt at every turn. He is like Alain Delon in Le Samourai, cold and stolid yet unbearingly sad.
Refn’s films are not for everyone and this film is a strong testament to this statement. However if you like the films I do and you like reading my reviews then you will probably love this film with all of your heart just like I do. The Oscars can go screw themselves.