Drive (2011) – A Review


A review of the 2011 neo-film noir Drive starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston and Albert Brooks

Drive 2011 Ryan Gosling

He’s a movie stunt driver, who moonlights as a hired wheelman for robberies. Plus, he’s quite a taciturn fellow too! Sounds like a cool character.

Ryan Gossling gives a quiet, subdued performance as the ‘Driver’. His morals are confusing, but not to him. Whether he’s crashing a car for an action scene or out-maneuvering the cops with acouple of robbers in his backseat he sees no difference. He’s hired to drive, no matter what the circumstances are.

His life gets taken for a detour when he meets his lovely neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son. He develops a connection with them and suddenly he can find satisfaction in not just speeding down California streets, but quietly spending time with them.  Then Irene’s husband returns from prison and things get really complicated.

With a diverse supporting cast (Albert Brooks, Bryan Cranston, Ron Pearlman) Drive is a stylish neo-noir film. Greed, mistrust, violence – those classic noir elements fuel the rest of the story.

Director Nicolas Winding Refn crafts an engaging story with this mixed bag of characters, who all have their own histories that somehow brought them to this point in their lives and the drama that results from them coming together.

The inevitable driving sequences are not just exercises in speed, but are made more exciting because of the stakes for the characters involved. The Driver doesn’t just specialize in speed when he gets behind the wheel, but intelligence, patience and knowing the street landscape and how best to utilize it.

The cast is all very good, but it’s Gossling who shines the most. His Driver is a quiet character who is exciting to watch whether he’s flooring the gas pedal or sitting staring off in the distance with his wheels turning in his head. You just wonder what is he thinking.

I can imagine ‘The Driver’ becoming one of those beloved fan favorite characters. He seems ready-made for it with his ever-present sliver jacket. It’s no surprise to me how many film fans have already latched onto the film and Gossling’s no name driver.


1 thought on “Drive (2011) – A Review

  1. I should read your blog more often. I can't believe I've missed this review. For me Drive was the best film of 2011, and Gosling's Driver is a throwback to the neo-noir anti-heroes of Jean Pierre Melville and Walter Hill. Whilst on the subject, I always classify this film as a neon noir, which in my opinion began in 1967 with Melville's masterpiece Le Samourai. Driver is both a hero and an antagonist, you never now where you stand with this man. Is he a protector? Or is he actually a sociopath with a thirst for violence? Refn's directing is flawless, the cinematography is superb and makes references to films such as Michael Mann's Thief and William Friedkin's To Live & Die in L.A. with its sun soaked vistas and neon lit night scenes. A tribute to 80s lore? or a representation of Driver's fractured psyche?

    The intorlable Quentin Tarantino has dismissed this film; damn if we both thought Brosnan's rants were too much, then Tarantino's fits neatly into second place. Why the slant? Is it because Refn has made a film that QT can only dream of? Or is it because QT is a hack who has sold out with his genre homages and despite all the nominations he gets, is still an unhappy jerk who will look back at Drive with envy?

    Also another major mention. The Soundtrack. Best Movie Soundtrack of 2011, and 2012! A year has passed and I'm still listening to it. Whoever arranged the music to this film is A Real Hero.

    Refn and Gosling are reuniting for kung fu film Only God Forgives

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