starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan
directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
and screenplay by Hossein Amini, adapted from a book by James Sallis
Though the build-up is slow, when Drive finally kicks it into gear, this crime thriller pulls the audience to the edge of their seats. Drive's nameless protagonist, played by the perpetually smooth Gosling, is a man of few words, and also a man of a few worlds. While he spends the days working in an mechanic shop, and performing car stunts for the big screen, at night he is a getaway driver for hire, moving criminals across the city and eluding the police. When he falls for his neighbor, (Carey Mulligan) he offers his expertise to help get her ex-husband, a recently released criminal, get out of his debt to the mob. When things go sour, the action is non-stop, and the film is an adrenaline pumping light-show. In fact, one of Drive's greatest assets is its exciting experimentation with light and color. Swirling neons and flashing white lights paint the scenery of the urbanite crime saga. The cinematographic use of shadows to outline characters, and bring Gosling's character literally and figuratively in and out of darkness, is somewhat surreal in its extreme aestheticism, and yet is vibrant and captivating. The acting is precise, but limited by the simplicity of the script. The power of each scene is often driven more by what is not said, than the actual dialogue, which is scarce throughout the film. Albert Brooks is a frighteningly evil mobster, full of great one-liners. Somewhat graphic, and slightly exaggerated, the framework of the story is simplistic, and slightly predictable, but never unenjoyable. Still, this film is at its core is an expose of aesthetics: beautiful lights, beautiful colors, and beautiful people, all set to a synth-pop soundtrack that is as upbeat as it is eerie.
Final Score: 4.0 out of 5