Throughout Drive, the camera focuses again and again on the giant gold scorpion emblazoned on the back of the jacket of Ryan Gosling’s character aptly named Driver. Turns out Ryan Gosling is a scorpio (we share the same birthday). According to Astrology.com scorpios, “are the strong, silent type, and [they] have a magnetic aura” but they also, “need overkill to feel really alive.” We begin the film with Driver at his most quiet, his most mysterious and yes, his most magnetic. Towards the end of the film though we see his necessity to kill and kill and kill again.
Drive is a stylish film, one of the most stylish to come out in the last few years. The film begins with Gosling in all his neo-James Dean/ Steve McQueen cool in a beautiful chase scene through the dark streets of L.A all to the tune of “Nightcall” by Kavinsky (featuring Lovefoxxx). From the moment we see Driver we understand that he is cool. He plays the role of the guy every girl wants to be with and the guy every other guy wants to be. Driver is a Hollywood stunt man who meets a modest yet beautiful woman, Irene (Carey Mulligan) who lives in his apartment building. He gets to know her and her son and learns that her husband, Standard, is in prison for some gang related activity. When he is released from prison we see that he is decent man who wants to change his life but it turns out he still owes his gang some money. Standard is hopelessly forced back into his criminal lifestyle.
Driver of course believes in justice and decides to defend Standard from this violent, greedy gang. He agrees to partake in a heist to raise money for Standard. This is the turning point of the film. The first half of the film is a piece of dark moody magic, the second half is a blood soaked story of madness. Just when I began to think that Gosling had finally chosen to play the stereotypical hero role he surprised me by turning Driver into a much darker force. Yes, Driver is cool but he also embodies the sick sadism that we are all capable of. I was quite surprised by the amount of and level of violence in this film. There are at least 5 moments of truly shocking violence. At a couple moments the violence borders on Kill Bill style hilarity and improbability but there is one scene at gunpoint I found more unsettling than any in recent memory because of its unabashed honesty.
Drive is not a film for the squeamish and perhaps not one for viewers looking for a highly logical or original plot. Though I enjoyed the film I am still not sure what it is about. It is very, very stylish but I am not sure how much substance is there. The cinematography is wonderful, the atmosphere is spectacularly moody, the soundtrack is fresh and the performances across the board are strong. Nevertheless the film did not impact me as I hoped it would. What this film did show me though is that Ryan Gosling is one of the best young actors we have who also seamlessly has become one of the only true movie stars of his generation. In addition, its director Nicolas Winding Refn is an exciting new voice in cinema, his style is one that I am excited to see more of and to see develop.
Here is Nightcall by Kavinsky (featuring Lovefoxxx)