(Violent film noire thriller)
We liked Drive. We're not sure why. It is a strange mixture of extreme violence and fast action on one hand and slow, sensuous, unspoken moments on the other.
Reminiscent of the old black and white film noire, the movie dwells at times on seemingly endless moments. There's lots of staring, gazing into space and even lusting. And then, bang, pow, someone gets killed. One scene has the hero kissing the girl in an elevator, then turning and bashing a guy's head in with his feet.
Ryan Gosling plays Driver, a part-time movie stunt driver and auto mechanic who also moonlights as a getaway driver. He is the strong, silent type, using words sparingly, even when he meets and is attracted to his next-door neighbor. Irene (Carey Mulligan) lives with her young son in the next apartment, waiting patiently for her husband to get out of jail. Driver does her a few favors, shows an interest in her son and begins hanging around with them. They stare at each other incessantly, speaking few words. It is a very strange relationship, but this is a very strange movie.
When Irene's husband gets out of jail, the mob is after him to do another heist. Driver agrees to drive the getaway car. The robbery goes very badly. People die. Driver has the money and a bunch of bad guys are after it.
Albert Brooks, known for his comedy, plays the top bad guy, and he is scary. But not as scary as the bad guy played by the bad guy of all bad guys, Ron Perlman. They are all after Driver and the money, threatening to harm Irene. What's Driver to do? Why, take them out one by one in as gory and violent ways as the writers can concoct. What started out as a nice, quiet, subtle movie turns into one violent mess.
Why, then, you ask, did we like it?
First of all, the characters are unique. We're still not sure about Gosling, with his few words and long stares, but he did grab our attention. We liked Mulligan, with her girl-next door innocence and vulnerability. And we loved to hate Perlman and Brooks.
The caper movie followed no usual pattern. It surprised us at every turn, especially at the end. We do have to warn you that it is very violent and, on the other hand, very slow at times. The mostly older audience at the matinee didn't seem to like it as much as we did, mumbling about the excessive violence.
If this kind of movie turns you off, avoid at all costs. But if you like original, challenging film-making, you may want to see Drive.
Rated a very big R, with excessive violence, some profanity and even a little female nudity thrown in.