Drive 2011: Coolest film of 2011, movie review

Written by  Sal Kapoor
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Drive 2011: Coolest film of 2011, movie review

When movie stunt-man Ryan Gosling has a Platonic neighborly encounter with Irene, the wife of a convict, Gosling gets caught up in a world where the fantasy of family life with her starts to become a reality.

However, when Irene’s husband, Standard is released from prison, he is forced to do one last job to repay a debt. Unable to walk away from Irene and her son whose lives are now in danger, Gosling helps Standard out on the job. Standard is double crossed and murdered leaving Gosling to escape with the money.

With the local mafia closing in and keen to recover the loot, Gosling is forced to hand over the money which will ensure the safety of Irene and her young son.

Drive, The Movie 2011

Drive 2011: Coolest film of 2011, movie review

Continuing a line of heist and grab movies, Drive is a valuable addition to the hard-boiled crime sub-genre that Bullet, French Connection and The Driver have fuelled.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refnand and starring Ryan Gosling as an ice-cold stunt man who moonlights as a getaway driver, Drive takes us on a trawl through 80’s style neon-lit retro LA complete with cheap motels, auto-garages and viaducts. The absence of mainstream commuters is notable as the movie ventures into the darker labyrinths of the L.A.’s underbelly.

Much like Paul Schrader’s Travis Bickle, Ryan Gosling portrays a lone figure, at times bordering on a split personality from gallant tooth-pick chewing neighbor who’s happy to help out with the kids to psychotic cold blooded killer, murdering several Mafioso, shot in disturbing and graphic close-ups.

Little is known about Gosling’s life before we meet him – his cool demeanor and mystery is given little account. Perhaps the most revealing scene comes from Shannon, his boss, who tells Irene – “he simply walked in 5 years ago and asked for a job. I’ve been exploiting him ever since.”

The rootless good-guy characterization works: the scene when Standard, Irene’s ex-con husband has a homecoming party and meets Ryan Gosling for the first time borders on the sinister and hints at potential violence, with Standard suspicious of Gosling whilst he was away in prison. It’s the pinnacle of the movie’s moral framework that testifies to Gosling’s more noble actions.

However, the bad guys ensure that Drive manages to discard familiar stereotypes we’ve seen in block-busting chase movies. Our favorite Sons of Anarchy, Nino (Ron Perlman) is a small time hood in the catering industry. His relationship to the East Coast mafia is miserably summarized when he complains, “they still call me a Kike and pinch my cheek as if I’m a little boy.” This sums up his inferiority complex and is punctuated with such resentment, it justifies his nihilistic aims that fuels the heist that goes wrong.

What Drive offers is an ultra-cool existential glimpse into a seedy world that washouts and Hollywood extras inhabit. A visual homage to David Lynch, Martin Scorsese with snatched glimpses of Quintin Tarantino styled violence, Drive has numerous moments of shock aligned with gentle intimacy.

With a new-wave electronic soundtrack and reluctant hero redeeming his mistakes and hot-rodding through a milieu Michael Mann would be proud of, we think Drive deserves to win coolest film of the year and ranks its place as a modern crime classic.

Sal Kapoor

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