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October 24, 2011

Drive (2011)
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks

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Synopsis: Ryan Gosling is the nameless “Driver” – a car mechanic who moonlights as a getaway driver. He starts to get close to a neighbour, Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her young son, but when Irene’s husband is released from prison and enlists Driver on a desperate heist, things start to go wrong….

Review: Nicolas Winding Refn’s paean to American genre movies, Drive, is a real curiosity – at times extremely sensuous and emotional, yet also wickedly violent, brutal and satirical. It’s no surprise it won a technical award at the Cannes Film Festival, as Winding Refn totally overdoses on the film’s stylistics – from the numerous skyline shots of a neon-inflected downtown LA, to the frequent use of slo-mo at moments where Gosling and Mulligan are together, to the glamorous fetishisation of the cars themselves (and driver Ryan Gosling’s iconic silver jacket).

What’s hard to discern is exactly what Winding Refn’s attitude to his film’s subject matter is. I mentioned the word “paean” earlier in the piece, yet a more radical critique could read the film as a cracking satire of the dubious morals of Hollywood, with the orgiastic focus on the classic action movie pillars of cars and violence, married to an extremely sentimental attitude to family and children. Ryan Gosling plays his modern day ‘Man with No Name’ very well, reining in his usual charisma and intelligence, although much like with the whole film itself, it almost feels too technical and insincere a performance. (October 2011)

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