Drive is a 2011 film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Only God Forgives), staring Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, Blue Valentine) and Carey Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice, Public Enemies, The Great Gatsby). It is an adaptation of the James Sallis book of the same name with a screenplay by Hossein Amini (Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin).
Pretty boy Ryan Gosling plays an almost silent protagonist simply called Driver who works as car stun double for Hollywood movies and a car repairman during the day, while at night he works as a gateway driver for robberies.
His life changes when he meets a young woman called Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son Benicio, who he befriends and becomes close to.
I think they relationship is very interesting and sets it apart from other romances in movies because the two barely exchange words. Rather, their relationship is told via actions and their acting either by facial expressions or body language. It is quite clear that something is going on between Irene and the Driver, even though they know that their relationship is very much doomed. Irene is married to a man who’s coming out prison and the Driver is a criminal.
Even though they’re aware of all the things against their relationship, they still enjoy their short time together. He takes her out in his car for rides during the night and he takes care of both her and her son.
There is a very beautiful scene where the Driver takes Benicio his arms while covered by his signature sliver jacket with a golden scorpion.
That is the kind of theme that is present in the whole movie. It isn’t just good and evil, it is the conflicting interests of good and evil, of love and innocence.
In one hand you have a mother and her child waiting for the father and husband to come home, in another you have an anti-hero who wants to do good but is fated to do bad. Like the scorpion who carries a frog and stings it because that is its nature. And that is what the Driver is, a scorpion battling his nature.
The true strength of the movie comes from the way it tells its strong, via actions rather than dialogue.
To me, it is rather strange that more movies don’t do this and get into long dialogues when in a visual medium it’s easier to show rather than tell. Of course, sometimes it is necessary to tell and this movie tells you just enough for you to understand rather than too much. Saying too much whole suck out all the mystery out of the Driver’s character. You know very little about him and that’s how it should be. The movie works because it tells us what kind of person the Driver is through his actions. Ryan Gosling barely says anything in 100 minutes but he was enjoyably great in this role.
The action is also very good. Thought it might not be as fast as another action or crime movies, it is very well shot and with a simplicity that makes them stunning. They’re very crude and do not hide the dangers and the complications that might come up in a driving job.
The movie does not glamorizes the jobs the Driver’s takes, it does not glamorizes his personality or his actions, making him feel human. He is someone who can get hurt and that’s where the real tension from all the actions scene come.
The Driver is human. All the characters are human. And in a never ending sea of superpowers and surpassing the human nature and capability it is very refreshing to see a movie that makes their characters because just what they’re born as: humans.
While I don’t do this very often, I would like to speak a little about the movie’s music since it plays a great role in its ambience.
Most of the soundtrack was composed by Cliff Martinez (Far Cry 4, Spring Breakers, Solaris) which made amazing music for it, but the real strength and definition of the soundtrack comes from the credits song Nightcall by the French actor turned musician Kavinsky and A Real Hero by College featuring Electric Youth.
Both set up beautifully the movie’s themes and the character of the Driver and Irene.
Nightcall is about a conversation about a man and woman who are possibly lovers and discuss the man’s nature. He tells her that wants to drive you through the night down the hills/I’m gonna tell you something you don’t want to hear while she tells him that is something wrong with him but she can’t explain what, just that is something inside you.
The song acts as a beautiful foreshadowing for the unfolding of the Driver’s strong and well his relationship with Irene.
A Real Hero appears twice in the movie during key moments of the movie and is a perfect description of the Driver.
A real human being and a real hero.
Also a very good resume of the movie itself.
But the influence of this movie is bigger than one may think. In a not so bizarre turn of events, Drive has inspired the successful indie ultra-violent game Hotline Miami and together with the game it is one of the responsibles of the sudden revival of 80s style synthwave.
But the one million dollar question is: is the movie worth it?
Most definitely. For the shots, the action, the soundtrack, the characters and the story, for everything. If I had to give a 10 out of 10 to a movie I would give it to this one.