Monday, November 28, 2011

3 Short Paragraphs: Drive

2011, Nicolas Winding Refn (Valhalla Rising, Bronson) -- cinema

Refn is known for his crime movies, his movies of violence but with a flair of style, of ... art.  In Bronson we have a character who is inspired by the righteous violence of his taken name but has no real vengeance to be sought.  Thus he just takes on the violence seeking it in and out of prison. In Valhalla Rising we have a viking warrior taken prisoner but who becomes a symbol of supernatural violence to his captors. The latter is much more art and style than it is a violent action movie.

Drive introduces a very sedate, quiet character in Ryan Gosling's driver, known by little else but that name.  He is a stunt driver & a car mechanic but known in the criminal underground for his skill and code of conduct. He drives spectacularly but only for a set period of time, and then you are on your own. Screw things up and you are on your own. But really, this nothing but a set piece for the control of the character. Driver is completely withdrawn, an almost damaged feeling in his quiet, emotionless carriage. But when introduced to single mom Irene, and her son, he starts to slide out of his shell. Perhaps his shiny 80s driving jacket is his encasement of chrysalis? Unfortunately the metamorphosis we experience is not what he hoped for.

As Kent said, this movie stirred up some grumpiness in some mainstream viewers.  Blame the people responsible for the trailers again but this is not even trying to be Fast, Furious' artsy little brother. As I mentioned, the driving is just a setup for the character, a trapping to introduce us to his control.  It's not an action movie in the least, maybe a bit of a thriller but more about our characters in the stylish world that Refn has given us. The music, the angles and the lighting all add to the style Refn is creating. I rather loved the feel, almost as much as I was disappointed by Valhalla Rising and it's failed attempt to add art to sword & shields violence.