director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is a triumph of
cinema, with Refn seamlessly infusing romance, violence, betrayal and
humour under one umbrella. This reviewer is highly suspicious of films
have won any awards but in this case Refn’s Best Director win at Cannes
this year is sorely deserved. His rendering of the James Sallis story
name is as intense as it is tender and audiences will be left on the
their seats in anticipation of every scene.
introduction to the main lead known only as
Driver (Ryan Gosling) follows an extremely tense warehouse heist, where
navigates the dark streets of Los Angeles in a getaway car, channelling
Statham’s character in The Transporter series.
A stunt-car driver by day, Driver moonlights as a wheelman to the
underworld by night, with arrangements for both jobs made through his
car mechanic Shannon (Bryan Cranston). Driver’s routine is shaken when
for his married neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband
Isaac) has recently been released from prison. Standard is indebted to
local mob for protection in gaol and reluctantly Driver offers his help
driving the getaway car from a seemingly uncomplicated bookie robbery.
Subsequently, the burglary very quickly complicates and Driver is soon
not only for his own survival but that of Irene and her son.
of Refn’s film can only be described
as a neo-noir homage in terms of the half-lighting and shadowed
The contrast between day and night is visually striking and we are
we are suddenly transported from Driver’s isolated home at night to the
metropolis during the day. Refn uses this contrast to differentiate
characters. Irene and her son are seen prominently during the day,
Driver and Shannon are continuously shown in the dark interior of a car
huddled over car parts in a dim light. This technique is used
film and adds to the anonymity of the central characters and surrounds
with as underlying feel of shock and dread.
is stellar as the mysterious Driver,
alternating from restrained romantic to revenge fuelled madman in
and Carey Mulligan is solid, if underused in the film’s second half.
performance can be attributed to Albert Brookes as Bernie Rose, an
and now one half of the local crime syndicate (the other half played by
Perlman). His character is as much an enigma as Driver, where we don’t
extent of his brutality and cold calculation until he has stabbed a man
eye with his fork after finishing his lunch. This balance of quiet
thriller to violent outburst is characteristic of the entire film. We
know if the next scene will be an introspective moment between Gosling and
Mulligan or a blood drenched body on an elevator floor (luckily for us
actually happens in the same scene). Although some felt the violence
gratuitous we can suggest that it was a vehicle for Refn to highlight
unpredictability of a crime gone wrong: Driver is at much a loss on how
survive as the audience.
the only setback to Drive is the actual character of
Yes he is supposed to be a puzzle and yes we know that his ambiguous
only meant to reinforce this aspect but it only serves to confuse. This
that works for his development in the beginning of the film muddles his
motivations towards the end and we are left with more questions than
with regards to who is Driver. The audience needs information to relate
this respect Refn makes it too hard for us to empathise with his
character. Whatever we are meant to feel following our exposure to
inconsequential to the visual splendour that assails us from the film’s
to its conclusion. Complete with 1980s synthesizer pop and criminal
intrigue, Drive is deserving of any awards it
receives following its international release.