Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Drive (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 


If you ever wondered what a collaboration might be like between David Cronenberg and Brian De Palma, "Drive" is your film. It has a stylish refreshing drive-in movie quality that you just don't see in today's hyped up and flashy action films. Better yet, the seamy gloss of the orange and black cinematography suits the style. There is no contrivance here. It is what it is: a film from the drive-in era as seen from our future, circa 2011. You can almost smell and feel the leatherette on the screen. "Drive" is what Tarrantino's "Grindhouse" (2007)  should have been, instead of the visual smatterings of Sam Peckinpah's old clothes. 

Ryan Gosling, plays an icy stuntman simply known as "Driver". Not much is known about his past, present or future. He simply drives and exists.

In flavor and feeling Gosling's character  echoes the role of Jack  in "The American" (2010) Like Jack preparing his rifle, The Driver works on a car engine at his desk. He dreams of being a famous driver in Hollywood but satisfaction eludes him. At night he prowls the streets a bit like Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver" but with less attack and more space, ghostly and passive, yet prone to sudden rage.

Gosling does wonderful work here, equaling his fine performance in "All Good Things" (2010). 
The Driver falls in with Irene (Carey Mulligan) a single mother who gets mixed up with drug money, but the plot is secondary. More important is the odd feeling of the film: the deserted lots, the iguana-eyed gangsters and the sets that look made from cardboard, all shown from odd angles, as if the cult Danish directorNicolas Winding Refn  was rooming in Doctor Caligari's cabinet. And if you think the romantic frisson is undead between the two leads, its supposed to be. "Drive" is a case study of a retro-70s film seen through a methadone prism and the off-putting change of pace is a surprise rather than a bummer. How many torrid romances do you want to see, anyway? The sight of Gosling looking through his co-star as if she were an insect to be squashed with that ever slow smile, is enough to make any Highsmithic heart shiver. 
"Drive" does not hold in its gore. The violence is so visceral that it is almost a character in the film. These polyester types are out for blood, especially comedian Albert Brooks in the role of Bernie Rose.

Nothing is superfluous in "Drive". Even though we are not clued in on the driver's motivation, it doesn't seem necessary and everything fits in one naugahyde koan even though we have no answers. Like life itself, there is often no clear cause and effect. Once in a blue moon, if you're lucky, you are faced with one long highway, a driver, a  score  by Angelo Badalamenti and a satisfying eerie feeling that isn't produced by David Lynch. 

Write Ian at

Sent from my iPhone

No comments: