DVD: stylish and clever Drive is a must buy
One of the many things going for “Drive” – out on BD and DVD January 30 – is what it isn’t. “Drive” is not a dumb crime and cars caper that leaves you wondering if you’re watching a film or someone playing Grand Theft Auto.
Instead it harks back to an earlier tradition long before Vin Diesel began lumbering in and out of cars looking like a startled boiled egg. It’s a tradition which includes men like Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen, stoic outsiders on a mission. Its principal character, a stunt and getaway driver who is never named is a prime example of a man who lacks an existence outside of his remarkable talent for driving very fast.
Ryan Gosling plays the driver with a world weariness which perfectly fits the role. He is a man who has long ago accepted he will be unable to escape who he is. Gosling begins to fall for a neighbour with a young daughter, Irene (Carey Mulligan) only for her incarcerated husband to return and involve him in a robbery. The driver sticks to his professionalism but something goes badly wrong. He becomes a marked man. Like many an existential hero before him, he must rely on his own single mindedness and wit to survive.
Yet the film isn’t really about what is happening, so much as how people react to it. One can contrast the coldness of the driver with the brain shattering fear in the eyes of Christina Hendricks’ character Blanche as they attempt to flee pursuers.
It is also about the conflict of a man who must behave with a complete lack of humanity in order to protect the things (Irene and her son) that make him feel human, more than just a useful tool for rather unappealing specimens of our species to fulfil their greed.
As well as giving the film a dark but intriguing heart, Nicholas Winding Refn really knows how to make a film look and sound beautiful. The colours of the film are striking without being brash and an ethereal synth-pop soundtrack only adds to the film’s sense of effortless cool.
It is not a film for the squeamish; deaths are graphic and violent. The film revels in the gruesomeness of it all but never feels gratuitous, instead the knowledge that each walking, bundle of thoughts and fears could soon find their neo-cortex flying across a motel room adds to the tension.
What makes Drive such a pleasure is that, yes it has its violence, car chases and frightening mob bosses but it doesn’t treat its audience as stupid. For once, here is a film that looks and sounds great but realises that it needs a heart and a brain to be complete. For that, it’s worthy of a place in anyone’s movie collection.
Drive is out today and it’s a must see.