At Cannes last year, it seemed that Drive flew in under the radar somewhat. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring flavour of the year, Ryan Gosling - it became a word of mouth stormer on the Croisetter culminating in a Best Director award for the Danish filmmaker. Ironic, that a Dane left Cannes with anything to shout about following the shameful exit of Lars Von Trier in the same week.
Drive now revs up for its DVD release in the UK on Monday 30th January and the film should do well on the small screen as it continues an impressive theatrical release where it garnered numerous acclaim and a film that set my personal twitter timeline into over-drive.
Drive is based on the novel by James Sallis , and stars Gosling as a man who is simply known as Driver/Kid who works as a mechanic and part-time stunt driver for the movies in Los Angeles. He is also a getaway driver for robbers of property and banks, he promises them a five minute window where he is their's for those five minutes. A minute under or over and he walks away, but he will get them safe as he knows the streets of LA better than anyone. The thrilling prologue perfectly sets up the stealth mettle of the driver as he avoids police pursuit and cleverly gets involved with the finale of a NBA game.
My only complaint of the film is not really a critique of this opening scene, but without this scene the film would take a long time to get going. Only after the death of a peripheral character, does the film explode into this smorgasborg of ultra-violence.
To that effect the film is really a B-movie in the same vein of the oeuvre of Walter Hill (Driver) or Sam Peckinpah (The Getaway) that is elevated to exalted heights by an amazing ensemble performance. All the main characters are played by established and credible actors who take a lot of the economic writing and create real characters.
Bryan Cranston as Shannon, the Driver's boss at the garage, is especially good with a limp for added effect but there is a humbleness in his eyes as his years of experience speak volumes. The real surprise is Albert Brooks, as the moneyman Bernie Rose; Brooks is a comedian but there is a real coldness in his performance thanks in part to the delivery of his lines.
Yet the legend of this film will be built around the chemistry and central performances of Gosling and Carey Mulligan as Irene, the next door neighbour whose life impinges upon the Driver as he attempts to lend support. Mulligan has this innocence and purity about her that will lend to a number of roles in the next few years, it could be the making or detriment of her career.
As for the violence I was shocked by the European feel of the violence, only a Danish director could make a film with this much gore and make it look stylish. At times the film is a victim of style over substance - slow-mo's as the Driver comes home and he parks very slowly, a slow-mo kiss in the elevator ends with an eruption of violence that paints the Driver in crimson.
The DVD includes a theatrical trailer and an intriguing Q&A with Refn held at the BFI Southbank where he refutes stories about the casting process of the two females and his pleasure in blowing one of their heads off.
It is available from Icon Home Entertainment, my thanks to Think Jam Movies for the check disc.