With Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Goslings second collaboration with each other being released in UK cinemas tomorrow I felt there was a certain need to review there first time working together on the spectacular ‘Drive’ which took film festivals by storm back in 2011.
The film follows the character only known as ‘Driver’ (Ryan Gosling) who is a stunt driver by day and getaway driver by night. This character is very much the silent type, standing in the background always listening with that sense of nothingness in life. His only connection to that outside world seems to be the father figure of Shannon (Bryan Cranston) until he meets new neighbour Irene (Carrey Mulligan) and suddenly becomes somewhat inclined to take on the burden of that family.
The plot (as you can’t exactly say much without spoiling things) is a story of a lonely man trying to be a part of something he very much isn’t and can’t seem to fit in with being Irene’s family yet it’s told in somewhat of a dream like style with its colouring and trance like music which sucks you into this neo-noir world Refn has created. The first half of the film is this dream like imagery of what perhaps Driver is feeling but later being transformed into exactly what Refn is quite known for being bloodbath violence.
The style of the film is of course neo-noir as if set in the 80’s through it’s neon colouring, cars, characters which seem out of an 80’s cop show and its background soundtrack which eases you through scene by scene. The characters don’t speak as much as they might in some films but rather they show their actions through gestures and what they do. At one point when the character Driver is introduced to Bernie (Albert Brooks), who plays the mob boss bad guy in the film, theres a moment of understanding straight off where the characters stand and their attitudes as Bernie offers a hand to Driver in which he replies “My hands are dirty” with a quick smirk from Bernie and a reply back as to “So are mine.” Its this shiver of excitement from there attributes as characters which are so well spoken that there isn’t that massive necessity of dialogue.
Refn has done a perfect job with this film. The opening to the film gives you a brief idea of what the Driver character is all about before it accelerates you into a getaway sequence which visual shows off his talents in a car and the entire sequence is shot beautifully. From that moment he ties his watch to the steering wheel nothing is at a fault in this scene as he slowly rides off before a quick chase ensues all of which is shot from the car itself. This isn’t some massive blockbuster where we have hugs wide shots of the car speeding off while the audience sits in the sky to get a full glimpse view of everything, no. Instead we are with the Driver. We’re there, in the car, as it twists and turns around corners along with slow cuts to Goslings character peacefully sitting behind the wheel of the car and this is the moment. This is the moment we feel the tranquility of the film. Its possibly the most simple word to put it as but ‘Drive’ is very much tranquil in every sense from beauty of filmmaking to the peaceful beats in the soundtrack.
It’s up there as one of the best films of all time for me. Lets see how Nicholas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s next outing turns out with the nightmarish film ‘Only God Forgives’ out 2nd August.