Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Hossein Amini (screenplay) and James Sallis (Book)
Principal cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac and Ron Perlman
DVD Release date: 30th January 2012.
Ryan Gosling portrays the eponymous stuntman working within the Hollywood studio system who moonlights as a renowned getaway driver for hire within the criminal community of Los Angeles.
A character living a life devoid of relationships until the arrival of next-door neighbour Irene (Mulligan), as the driver begins to find purpose to his life amidst the time spent with his neighbour and her son, a chain of events will begin to unfurl with the return of Irene’s husband and ex-convict (Isaac).
As the family next door are menaced by some old connections, Gosling’s driver steps in to undertake one job to buy off the local mob. But what starts out as a planned routine getaway spirals into a complex web concerning the wider criminal community.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn stylishly reinvents the tried and trusted genres of the heist movie and film noir with the added spice of a modern day western as his spacious but taut thriller arrives on DVD after meeting critical acclaim from cinema audiences and critics alike.
This clever feature is light in its running time, simplistic in its story telling, atmospheric in its use of the neon drenched sprawl of downtown Los Angeles and finds a perfectly silent antihero in its central protagonist.
Ryan Gosling is currently in vogue with audiences and critics following his pivotal performance in the George Clooney political thriller The Ides of March (2011).
His understated and captivating style of performance is perfectly suited to the role of the outsider who is not only looking for revenge against those who set him up but also intent on defending a family fallen on the wrong side of the law and desperate to brake away from a past connected to crime.
The portrayal of the unnamed stuntman with an inclination for criminal activity is just a shade away from being Shane (1953), albeit that hero surely never had the calculated coolness of Gosling’s drive for hire or the cold blooded nature to suddenly react to and engage in some of the frankly gruesome violence displayed in this modern take on the western.
Carey Mulligan is currently riding high on the critical acclaim received for Shame (2012) and her deftly crafted performance manages to combine a portrayal of a wife married to a former thief (Isaac), mother of a young son and woman attracted to another man.
It’s also refreshing to see the romantic interplay between Gosling and Mulligan play out with virtually no dialogue and confined to the briefest of screen kisses.
Elsewhere Ron Perlman definitely has the bulk and hard edge features to play the heavy and is clearly having fun pursuing Gosling and the stash acquired from the botched job whilst Brooks plays to type with his mob boss and proceeds to clean up the whole mess via an escalating body count, right down to the last man standing.
Drive incorporates a modern electro pop soundtrack that captures the night time neon and daytime haze of Los Angeles and thus occasionally makes this tale reminiscent in style to a Sofia Coppola movie whilst elsewhere the stylish car chases impress, thanks in part to some very slick editing with the opening sequence perfectly capturing Gosling’s character at what he does best via a cleverly conceived getaway.
Some extreme violence is offset by a clever modern take on the noir thriller and heist genres and a superlative performance from the movie’s leading man. Recommended.
Drive is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 30th January 2012.