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Posted on September 17, 2011

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenwriter: Hossein Amini

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks

Release Date: September 16, 2011

Based on James Sallis' novel of the same name

Is it me or is Ryan Gosling the only person hungry for an Oscar’s this year? Drive, an action-drama that is adapted from James Sallis’s novel of the same name, is a piece of art. The story follows an unnamed driver who is a mechanic during the day, a part time stunt driver at night and a midnight getaway driver. Since he (Ryan Gosling) remains unnamed, let’s just call him ‘Driver’. Driver’s idle life comes to s halt after meeting neighbor and single mother Irene (Carey Mulligan). Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction combined with Cliff Martinez’s music and Newton Thomas Sigel’s cinematography brings a beautiful and stylized crime thriller you’ve never seen before.

I couldn’t help but feel adrenaline for this film after watching the trailer. There was something about it that turned me on. For the most part, I think it was the music however, I felt an 80's-like formula to it — which I loved. I wasn’t expecting Fast and Furious, but I did expect violence — and that, I received.

As mentioned, the film follows a mysterious driver. I say mysterious because Driver’s feelings, intentions, and motives are always unpredictable. Although he doesn’t speak often, you can tell there’s a lot going through his mind by his facial expressions. He lives a simple life of doing what he does best: driving. Whether it’s fixing up cars at the garage or performing stunt work, he utilizes all his skills to his greatest potential. The film starts off with Driver helping two random burglars evade the police and perform a flawless getaway. Things get interesting when he exchanges glances with his neighbor Irene. Unfortunately, their relationship hits a huge pot hole when Irene’s convict husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) is suddenly home from prison. Despite the on-going awkward introductions and conversations, Driver finds himself the mark of some fancy mobsters (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman).

Driver is not your typical hero; he does whatever he wants for unknown reasons. Would you consider him a bad guy for getting involved with heists? When it comes to Irene, we realize she doesn’t know much about him before feeling attached. For a character that doesn’t have too many lines, Gosling does a remarkable job giving a real sense of charm and fearlessness. When we see the couple on screen, we already feel a legit sense of connection by their soft-unspoken silence. Still, Gosling managed to deliver a very charismatic and likable character even though words are said with long periods of complete silence. Don’t worry, when things finally got heated, Driver’s sudden bursts of violence is terrifying and fearsome.

As I was sitting through this movie, I felt great suspense beginning to end. The film takes us through the mind of the driver as we’re riding shotgun. Remember how I mentioned that there are consistent scenes with pure silence? It’s those parts that make us question what’s going to happen next and what Driver is thinking. Although I loved the frequent quietness, it does come with a downfall — the audience. If you’re sitting in a crowded theater like I was, you’ll start to get annoyed of the constant creaking of the chairs, the on-going whispers behind you, and some potential snoring. For those unfamiliar with indie-like films, some may find this film very slow. I, on the other hand, loved every part of it because it brought a powerful and authentic atmosphere to the drama happening on screen.

I should also add, this film is also viewed positively for its soundtrack. Cliff Martinez’s score is absolutely stunning, giving us a Daft-Punk-like noise as we’re cruising down the streets of Los Angeles. In addition, this film is also a visual-orgasm due to cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel. Under his vision, we clearly see the transitions from the afternoon to night time as we witness the familiar landmarks of LA. Besides the city streets, you’ll be in for a treat once the story kicks in. Although I wish there were more automobile stunt work, I was still happy with the end result. From car chases to blood shed, you will walk away satisfied. Remember, heavier loads of gore don’t mean anything.

Although the movie’s final scenes are not as good as the first fifteen minutes, you’ll come to sense that the plot and characters were used in full force. Drive may initially take awhile to accelerate for those unprepared for its unique style and questionable pacing, yet most of us will eventually admire and embrace the beauty of this simple, yet compelling drama through the actions portrayed by Gosling and the supporting cast. Actions speak louder than words and this film clearly highlights that saying. Drive is definitely my favorite film of the year thus far. From Blue Valentine to Crazy, Stupid, Love, and now this... you can't expect any less from Ryan Gosling's upcoming The Ides of March.

Here guys, I'll do you a favor, here's a link to the film's score. You will thank me later.

9.1 out of 10
Review by: Richard Chou

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