Friday, September 16, 2011

See It or Skip It: Drive

    I was lucky enough to win tickets to an advance screening of Drive. First off, please know I am an avid Ryan Gosling fanjunkie…whatever you call it. So, I’ll try my best not to be too bias because I can seriously just watch him do absolutely nothing for hours and call it a masterpiece. I promise not to do that here.

    Drive opens with Gosling as Driver. A L.A. man awaiting the arrival of two criminals who are about to commit larceny. As a side job, Driver provides a clean getaway in 5 minutes. Besides being a full-time mechanic, he does dangerous car stunts for the movies. Here’s a quiet, reserved, and obviously a lonely man with no one in his life but his friend/boss. This all changes with the arrival of a young mother who moves into to his apartment floor. Driver finds a simple solace in this woman and her child. The return of her husband from jail quickly stops this from becoming “one-of-those” films. I don’t want to get too into the plot but the husband brings major conflict. Not only is his presence a threat to Driver’s relationship with this woman, fun old prison friends want payback and won't take no for an answer. The courses of action that follow will forever change their lives.

    Drive won the directors award at Cannes this year and I can easily see why. This action packed thriller is with several surprises. Be fair warned: VERY GRAPHIC VIOLENCE. I mean skull-crushing-shot-in-the-face-oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened violence (which is slightly evident in the movie’s trailer). This is definitely NOT for the weak hearted. At times, it does feel a bit too stylized with the exaggerated slow movements pulsating to the hypnotic electronic beats with neon lights in the background. Yeah, like I said it has style. In that aspect, it feels very European. Yet, there are scenes where Gosling gazes into Mulligan’s eyes and it feels like you are intruding on a private moment. Mixing these elements was an interesting approach to this film. I did enjoy the film. Unlike most films opening today, it's a a slick and cool with loads of fun at the theater.

   Ryan Gosling provides (trying to be unbiased here) a solid performance. He fits well into the character. While some other more macho man actors can play this role, I don’t know if it would work well with anyone else. I cringe to think what type of film this could have been with Jason Statham or The Rock. It’s not my favorite film of his (nor is it remotely his best) but he sure works that screen. Bryan Cranston is great yet subtle as Driver’s ill-advised boss and confidant. Carey Mulligan is neither here nor there for me. I think she’s a wonderful actress! However, she’s just not right for this particular role. This role should have had an unknown actress because frankly it's just not a good part for any mainstream actress. Mulligan is too big a name to still be doing parts like this.

   Not everyone was blown away by this film at the screening. Some viewers thought it to be extremely campy and completely unrealistic. Well to them, I say: “IT’S A MOVIE, GET OVER IT.” I do agree Albert Brooks’ act was over the top but that may be because I’ve only seen him as a comedian. He’s a shady businessman who will cut your throat open. Literally!! Brooks completely 180’s himself and is like you’ve never seen him. However, I liked that fact that Ryan Gosling was going against the two old macho bad guys like Ron Pearlman and Brooks. It’s not your everyday scenario.

   Like I said before, this is a visually violent film. You will either be shocked or laugh uncontrollably at how outrageous this just got! By the end of the film, Gosling is drenched in blood stains. (Couldn’t he  find a new outfit besides the shiny bomber jacket?). I can't help but think it was just too gory at times. I mean I don't know if certain scenes were really necessary. Overall, Drive is an intense yet emotionally thrilling film. The film is far from perfect but the twists and turns keep you glued to your seat.


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