Friday, September 16, 2011

Movie with Abe: Drive

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Released September 16, 2011

In some rare cases, a movie’s excellent quality becomes clear in its initial moments. In “Drive,” every part of the distinct, dreamlike mood of the film is established during its gripping first scene, in which an unnamed stunt man (Ryan Gosling) explains and then executes the perfect getaway as he silently drives his cargo to safety and freedom in the aftermath of a heist. The pensive and foreboding beat in the background and the scribbled pink text that adorns the screen during the opening titles cement “Drive” as a sleek, stylish experience that’s definitely much more than your average movie.

“Drive” has a relatively small cast of characters, but each of them are instilled with extraordinary depth and purpose, and the actors chosen for each of the parts perform commendably. Gosling leads the pack in a role heavy on facial expressions and body language. This is a part Gosling was born to play, and he makes the most careful and thoughtful of performances look effortless. Carey Mulligan portrays his neighbor and budding love interest, and she plays marvelously off of his strong and silent type. The ensemble also includes great villainous turns from Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, as well as steady support from TV stars Bryan Cranston and Christina Hendricks in much different roles than the ones that made them famous.

What really makes “Drive” a superb film is its willingness to think outside the box and not to conform to any standard set of expectations. The story is rather straightforward despite its many complications, and it’s the intensity of the scenes and the way the performers work with them that makes it interesting. That’s an understatement, of course, since so many of the scenes are entirely captivating. Suspense is almost omnipresent, yet the film doesn’t feel overstuffed or forcibly propelled by any sense of the unknown.

There are plenty of twists and turns in the ride that may not be completely surprising, but the way in which they’re played out makes them all the more shocking and awe-inspiring. “Drive” travels a bleak road, but it never gets caught up in its own darkness. With Gosling in the lead, “Bronson” director Nicolas Winding Refn at the helm, and Oscar-nominated Hossein Amini penning the screenplay, “Drive” represents a furious and efficient assemblage of talent. A movie about a stuntman moonlighting as a getaway driver isn’t supposed to be quite this engaging, yet somehow this film manages to be absolutely hypnotic and mesmerizing.


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