The title and the opening scene of Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylish new movie Drive combine to conjure the image of a fast paced action thriller like Transporter or The Fast and the Furious. This however proves to be considerably misleading as the plot transforms into a 21st century depiction of the classic knight and damsel in distress tale.
You soon realise that, with the gore of Sin City and the romance of a love story, Drive is a rather unique amalgamation of two extreme genres. Driver (Ryan Gosling) an alpha male will explore the unfathomable depths of his psyche to save a married damsel in distress. We follow a laconic driver through the initial parts of the movie who eventually turns into a monster dishing out inhuman beatings for the sake of love. The infusion of these two aspects could not be done with better finesse than in Drive.
Ryan Gosling has portrayed the persona of Driver with admirable dexterity. Due to the limited dialogue, Gosling is left to unravel the complexities of his character merely through body language and facial expressions. Juxtaposing Driver’s calm exterior with his blood stained scorpion jacket (a reflection of his tightly coiled interior), Refn creates a character that keeps the audience intrigued –a man who seems passive and peaceful yet walks around with gouts of gore displayed upon his attire. It is strange that no one turns to glance at the smears that Driver carries with him; it blends into the visions of the city.
The cinematography of the film must be complimented. Whilst never lacking realism, the violence is visually almost cartoon like (á la Sin City). The most violent scene in the movie drew giggles from the audience demonstrating black humour. This scene is bound to confuse the audience about the kind of character Driver is supposed to be. At the end of the movie, it is hard to look at him as a hero, maybe even harder to look at him as an antihero; I personally had to settle with tragic hero and blame these events of his life on fate. While deteriorating our idea about the character of Driver, this scene demonstrates the idea of human duality. Irene (Carey Mulligan) allows us to see the subtleties of Driver’s affectionate side but is also the reason for this physical manifestation of the rage inside him.
The musical direction however was a sharp contrast to the cinematography and skilful acting. It baffled me why a euphonious song called “Oh My Love” served as background music to a gory death scene where complete silence would have sufficed. This may have been an attempt at juxtaposition on the part of Refn, however it was not executed well. Not only on this one instance, but throughout the film, the music playing seemed hardly suited to the scenes it played to. It’s natural for every movie to have its glitch and as far is Drive was concerned, this was definitely it.
Despite this, I would recommend the movie Drive. Although the film was very different to what I expected I was pleasantly surprised. With an excellent lead actor and impressive supporting cast Drive is a satisfying coalition of drama, direction, writing and performance.