Drive, directed by Nicholas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising), is based on James Sallis’ novel of the same name and is a brutal and somehwat poetic tale of one man’s fight to protect the woman he loves. We are first introduced to Driver, played marvellously by Ryan Gosling (The Notebook, The Ides of March), giving instructions that he will give unnamed criminals a five minute window to commit their crime, and will drive them wherever necessary. So, at first, we see a rather dark persona of Gosling’s character as he doesn’t follow the norm, this drew me towards Driver extremely well. Although they pass each other on other occasions the first time Driver meets, and talks to, Irene, played by Carey Mulligan (Shame, An Education), is when she is having trouble with her car. Driver offers to take her back to her apartment next to his, here we find out that Irene has a husband in prison. However this does not stop a friendship from blossoming between the two characters. It is clear that they have a connection we are now shown the good side to Driver, which is most obvious as he is carrying Irene’s sleeping son is his arms.
Even though they become very close it is not to last as Irene’s husband is released from prison. Once released there is tension between the two men, however this subsides quickly. Afterbeing beaten up in front of his son to be persuaded Standard agrees to take a job in order to protect his family and Driver offers his services to get the job done. This is where the tension begins to increase: as we wait to see what happens. The job doesn’t end well and Driver is forced to leave the scene with Blanche, played by Christina Hendricks. From then on the film shows the lengths Driver goes through in order to protect Irene and her son and is filled with tension throughout. We are met with car chases and violence on the part of both Driver and the people he is trying to stop. These scenes make it impossible to look away from the screen. I found that the intensity of the film hooked me to it, even though I couldn’t help wincing when Driver stamps a hitman’s head in.
Because of the level of violence in the film some people may not appreciate it for its other points. People need to look past the violence in order to see the beauty of Winding Refn’s work. The cinematography is brilliant in Drive, I especially loved the contrast in colours when Driver and Irene were together (A blonde Mulligan in red in front of a red background and a brunette Gosling in blue or white in front of a blue background). Another thing that must be commended is the music score by Cliff Martinez which brilliantly compliments the story and gives the film a wonderful feel to it. I will be honest and say that I wasn’t convinced that I would like the film after seeing Nicholas Winding Refn in a Q&A at last year’s Empire’s Big Screen where we were shown clips of the film (mainly the most brutal scenes). However once I watched the film I was surprised at the how well I was drawn to the story and how desperately I wanted Driver to succeed in his mission. The film shouldn’t be characterised by the bloody violence that features in it, but by the incredible acting and direction of it. Some people may not agree with me, but I feel that Drive was the best film from last year and should be seen by as many people as possible.
Reviewed by Roxy Simons.