Film Review: Drive
OK, so it wasn’t THE premiere but it was A premiere and apart from the fact that Ryan Gosling wasn’t there, it was a great night with all kind of exciting premiere-like freebies: beer, chips, bags, magazines, badges, USB drives, more beer….And the setting was perfect for a film about driving: the Classic Car place on Old Street, the one that you’ve probably been past on the bus many times, and thought ‘what the hell is that?’. It may have been slightly cold, with a few too many heads in the way, and way too many bottles falling and banging on the concrete floor, but it all added to the atmosphere. Being in a massive garage surrounded by great classic cars, with actors milling about pretending to be hustlers and doormen, can only be a bonus.
So on to the film. Apparently like everyone else, I have a crush on Ryan Gosling. (Why does everybody else like him so much? They can’t have seen his indie flicks.) Which was my initial impetus for watching the film.
From the posters and trailers it looks like a mainstream action film, but everyone was raving about it AND there’s no reason why a mainstream action film can’t be great (right?). But everything was justified when I realised the film had won best Director at Cannes (Nicholas Winding Refn). Plus it also stars Carey Mulligan, who I am also a bit too keen on at the moment.So I was very glad to receive name on the door tickets from the lovely-and-coming-very-soon Hackney Picturehouse after a campaign of pestering them.
The film was set in LA and focuses on un-named driver (Ryan Gosling) who drives in literally every sense of the word - racing, stunt driving as well as moonlighting as a get-away car driver. He becomes friendly with a neighbour (Carey Mulligan), which leads to some unwanted trouble and predictably things spiral out of control. I am not going to go into the story much, see that for yourself.
I liked that the lead actors played quite different roles to their standard ones: Gosling’s driver was an alternative to his recent indie boy softies, and Mulligan played a working-class American married to a prisoner, contrasting to her usual polite English rose characters. But neither role seemed very challenging, with little dialogue (probably the two quietest leads I’ve seen in a film) and a few too many slightly annoying semi-romantic smirks.
The violence was done excellently, not that I am a fan of violence. But it did exactly what it was meant to do, it was shocking, initially unexpected, and not overdone. I imagine this is probably the main appeal of the film,and what the director was credited for. However (yes there is a rather large however). The romantic stuff for me failed, I found many scenes cheesy and predictable [*spoiled alert* the blink], it was as if the director just didn’t get that bit. Terrible for me to say this but it feels like he got the boys bits, but not the girl bits (sorry for ‘bits’ referencing).
Mulligan’s character was under developed, and unremarkable and the love story, which all of this was resting on, had no depth.
And Gosling, I should say, although he pays a cool, silent character, the hard-ass thing didn’t work with that smile.
So yes, the panning ariel shots of L.A. were great, and matched the fast pace of the cars. The soundtrack was brilliant, with a totally 80s feeling. The opening scene was a perfect introduction to the film… Gosling’s scorpion jacket was iconic… the driving scenes even made me want to drive. But for me it just lacked something.
It was a well executed gangster film mixed with an well executed action film. And if you can appreciate it for just that you will no doubt agree with EVERYONE out there who loves it. But story seemed to merge two other things that just didn’t quite gel, so where it excelled in one area it was defeated in the other.
See more pictures of the event here.