First Impressions: ‘Drive’

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Hossein Amini (screenplay) & James Sallis (book)
100 min.
Rated R

3 1/2 out of 4 stars

By Josh Perrault

Coming into this film it was difficult to imagine what to expect, like how every film should be. Drive blew me away within the first couple seconds of the film. A constantly engaging film that has surprises lurking at the beginning, middle, and end of each scene. Winner of Best Director at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Nicolas Winding Refn delivers this hypnotic film that stands out from many since Brian De Palma came out with Scarface in the early 1980s. That is to say, I found Drive to have the same fresh feel and stylistic approach that Scarface had, while still keeping some soft edges. Ryan Gosling stars as stuntman and part-time getaway driver known throughout the film simply as the kid, who discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist goes terribly wrong. Ryan Gosling has increasingly stepped up in book throughout his filmography. We can all agree we remember hearing about Gosling after his breakthrough film The Notebook in 2004. I’ll admit, which I’m sure most men will, I neglected the actor due to his “chick flick” role. It’s unfair, I know, but I’ve also matured since then and have grown to appreciate Gosling immensely. And let’s just say, this film helped. Gosling put his acting chops to the test in this action thriller where he played alongside Carey Mulligan who plays Irene, apartment neighbor and lover interest, and Bryan Cranston who plays Shannon, mechanic and Gosling’s right hand man during his stunts. Along with this already amazing cast comes the great Albert Brooks (Taxi Driver), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy).

It’s not an exaggeration at all when I say I was literally hypnotized by this film. There is an overall look to the film that isn’t seen much. Like I said, it has a little bit of the feel from Scarface mixed with the grittiness of Taxi Driver and the cerebral effect from a David Lynch film. The soundtrack holds a hint of the 80s, and not to mention the hot pink script font that letters across the screen during the credits. The film may seem to start slow as we get to get a feel for Gosling’s character as well as the ones that become close to him leading to his biggest job ever. By that point the film gets that vibrant look. And by vibrant I mean gory (remember, Scarface). And by gory I mean, you definitely weren’t expecting it. This shouldn’t turn those off from seeing the film though. There may be a lot of intense images and blood, but again it gives it that feel that you don’t find in very many films… which I love.

I can’t stress enough the overall feel of this film and how it differs itself from films today. It’s very cool and hypnotic. From the first scene you’ll find your eyes glued to the screen and never under any circumstance wanting to leave. The cinematography is beautiful, the music is killer, and the acting is superb. And honestly who doesn’t love to find all of those elements in a film?


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