Toadsly’s Succinct “Drive” Movie Review: This Sugary-Sweet, Violently-Bitter Cinematic Dish Is a Fine Fall Treat
Posted by: Toadsly on Oct 04, 2011
Drive is stylish fable: A dazzling, frightening, visceral fairytale about a man who can’t transcend his true nature. An automobile “gearhead,” only known as Driver (Ryan Gosling), with no back story, pilots Hollywood stunt cars by day and getaway vehicles by night. The movie opens as the laconic Driver transports two armed thugs away from a heist scene. Soon, the toothpick chewing, steely-eyed wheelman is adroitly evading scores of cop cars and the occasional helicopter searchlight. He’s intelligent, unflappable and brazen beyond belief. Techno Pop blasts as we are mesmerized by his catlike celerity. Decades ago, Steve McQueen would have been cast as Driver. But Gosling, may the acting gods continue to bless him, is a better fit.
Drive is divided into two parts. The first is a PG-13 love story – it’d be G without the profanity – that focuses on Driver’s infatuation with his new next-door neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan). Irene is a twenty-something woman who resembles a virginal teenager who grew up in Andy Taylor’s Mayberry. She wears frumpy clothes and uses bobbie pins to bind her golden hair. No nude sex scenes fill the silver screen because it’d seem like kiddy porn. As-a-matter-of-fact, there’s only one vigorous smooch in an elevator. But Irene’s not exactly what she seems: her young son, fathered by a convicted criminal, bears witness to that revelation. And when Irene’s hubby returneth from the pokey, our laconic loner inexplicably offers to help him commit a robbery so the ex-con can get some murderous thugs off his case. Things go awry during the heist…end of part one!
Part two is ripe with gut-wrenching violence. This movie is not for the faint-hearted! After Driver realizes that he’s inadvertently taken $1million of mob money by stumbling into a locally-manipulated rip off, he instinctively reasons that only by killing all of the involved miscreants will he be able to save Irene and himself. Heads are blown off; eyes stabbed with forks; bones broken with hammers; heads stomped into bloody pulps; wrists ripped with razors and throats slashed. At the movie’s conclusion, Driver, perhaps fatally wounded, drives back to wherever the hell he came from. But not before he dispatches all the bad guys, including Mr. Big Bad-Guy (Bernie), brilliantly played against type by Albert Brooks. Man, the great song “Real Hero” fits the final scene like a glove!
Perhaps you’re wondering why 373 words ago I declared Drive a stylish fable? Well, during most of the movie, Driver wears a white satin bomber jacket with a large scorpion emblazoned on the back. Even after it’s splattered with blood and guts, he won’t abandon it! That jacket is the key to the whole tale! And if that’s not enough proof, in one scene, Driver ever-so-briefly alludes to the Aesop fable about the frog and the scorpion. Driver’s nature is his nature is his nature….!
Drive is a brilliantly-crafted, highly-stylized neo-noir film that garnered Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn the Best Director Award at Cannes. It’s worth your time, even if you must occasionally close your eyes.