Drive (18)

2011 USA Cert 18 95 mins Director: Nicolas Winding Refn. Starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan 

“Like the novels of Raymond Chandler and the paintings of David Hockney, Drive is both an accurate view of southern California’s intoxicating sleaze and glamour and the filtering of it through a European sensibility.” (Philip French, The Observer)

 While that quote conjures up an evocative portrait, perhaps it makes it sound more gentle that it is.  There’s no getting away from the fact that there is violence in this film, but then that seems inevitable with a plot line involving big-time robberies, nasty criminals and hints of mob-money.  But violence isn’t the point of this film, which is actually far more subtle, with a riveting performance from Ryan Gosling.  And, just to be clear, it isn’t gratuitous violence, and you can always just not look for a few seconds if you are squeamish.  Please don’t let it put you off.  Danish Director Nicolas Winding Refn won the Best Director award for Drive at Cannes in 2011.

 Gosling is a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a get-away driver.  Much has been made of his USP – he’ll only drive in that capacity for five minutes, then he abandons those who’ve employed him, even if the jobs not done.  That’s blatantly silly, and a red herring really, but it does mean he is blamed, not unreasonably, when it has disastrous consequences. 

 But the film starts more gently, as a tender relationship develops between Gosling and a neighbour (Carey Mulligan, excellent acting from her again) who is a single mum while her husband is in jail, although Gosling gets more than he bargained for when the jailbird comes home. 

 There are some tremendous driving sequences, as you’d imagine, but they aren’t conventional car chases.  And the other important thing to mention is the soundtrack – the music is really good.  Much of it was composed by Cliff Martinez.  Apparently Director Refn had been particularly impressed with Martinez’ score for Sex, Lies and Videotapes.  The music is integral to the film, complementing the action and apparently it has become very popular as a download in its own right. 

 Moira Collett