Drive is a film that works to gain your attention by keeping your focus on the thoughts and emotions of its protagonist Driver. Drive was directed extremely well by Nicolas Winding Refn and capably adapted by Hossein Amini from a book by James Sallis. Drive tells the story of a man who meets a woman and her son and becomes invested in their lives once the woman’s husband comes home from prison. The husband asks eventually ask Driver for a favor and the events that unfold as a result of doing that favor carry most of the films last hour.
Drive is one of those films that I was excited about after it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year. I liked it because it didn’t feel like a thriller or a drama or a story of a man set on getting revenge. Drive is a story of a man with no name who does a favor for someone and then has to react to the consequences of performing that favor. Storytelling doesn’t get more straightforward than that. The beauty of how brilliant this film is lies in its point of view and perspective. Driver emotes emotions rather than directly stating how he feels or what he might need. Mr. Refn works hard to show almost everything Driver experience from the point of us looking either up at the character or in two shots. The chase scenes that occur in the film are few and far between but an extension of Driver’s personality as a character. Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman both have memorable turns as villains in this film, neither is more sadistic or cruel in nature than the other. Ryan Gosling is perfect as Driver. Driver is a loner and everything he feels or even thinks is written all of over his face. The relationship between Driver and Carey Mulligan’s Irene is all about how one person looks at the other. Almost anyone who watches their relationship will see more looking at their glances than hearing the dialogue they speak. Drive also features some rather intense violence in its second half but all of it is justifiable considering what the character experiences and emotes to the audience.
Drive is one of those rare films that allows the action only to occur when it is necessary in terms of the story. The connection the Driver makes with Irene and her son shows a level of warmth I wasn’t sure we would ever see in the character. The only flaw this film has is that it exists alone as one of its kind in cinema of this decade. Maybe that’s a good thing though.