|Ryan Gosling is simply called "Driver"|
Ryan Gosling playing a nameless special kid simply called "Driver," a full-time car mechanic, a part-time Hollywood stunt driver, and who moonlights as a getaway man in midnight heists. Enough to see the film, right? Okay, go ahead and watch the trailer first. You are now excited, I presume? Come on! Gosling, a very special actor playing a very special kid in heist-riddled L.A., involved in a dirty job that goes wrong, sucked in an intricate web of masterminds, double-crossing and shadowy criminals-- and to make it more rich and complex, falls in love with the Brit version of Katie Holmes: Carey Mulligan. And! It's directed by the Danish Nicolas Winding Refn, who won this year's Cannes Best Director for this movie. To those unfamiliar with Refn (Pusher 1996), then Drive will be your first taste of the European director's style.
If you are expecting a heart-pounding, high-adrenaline car chase, or a direct-to-the-point suspense, then you're in for a dose of a different film adaptation of the novel by the same title. Because it's quiet, devoid of emotion and facial expression from Gosling (which was intentional), and it kind of recalls Sophia Coppola's excruciatingly pretentious Somewhere; but along with the constant hum of the car engine, we are bombarded with Refn's playlist of eighties electro music sung by various female artists, interspersed with throbbing, ominous musical score intentionally misplaced for art's sake.
No, I am not against style, of unconventional filmmaking, of a different contemporary approach to what should be expected as your normal Hollywood action-thriller. But do I appreciate Refn's style? No. It's utterly distasteful, like swallowing bitter medicine that you just want to get over with as soon as possible. It's highly pretentious, too artsy-fartsy that it robs us of every bit of emotion. I don't care how artsy-fartsy you wanna go, but please don't take away the emotions in the story. Picture this: slow, languid movements with background music; Gosling most of the time quiet, with a deadpan expression; Gosling driving or thinking with 80's discotheque kind of music playing; small stunts here and there, interrupted by raw and very graphic violence; a sickly looking Mulligan who is equally quiet and has no chemistry at all with Gosling. The bad guys (not that Gosling isn't a bad guy himself in the movie) are the only ones who give life to the film, but hell, they're so ugly to look at.
Drive is something you'd watch slouched in your cinema seat (never on the edge), and watch Refn's artwork unfold before your eyes: an orchestra of bad music with a creative slideshow of violence, Gosling's stony and cold expression, set in totally depressing LA locations. Yeah, it's got a real story-- a good one, actually, which makes it a tad better than Coppola's non-existent story in Somewhere. But it could have been delightful if it were directed by let's say...John Woo? Who the hell needs artsy fartsy in a simple action-suspense movie?
In the movie, one of the criminals tells Driver that in the 1980s, he used to produce movies. He recalls: "One critic called them European,” he said, then adding: “I thought they were shit!”
That's exactly what Drive is. Not my words!
1 out of 5 stars
1 out of 5 stars