Trailer Tuesday: Drive

We had Hanna (my review) earlier this year and now another high profile movie release does the unexpected and straddles the line between action blockbuster and art house fare. Drive - based on the novel of the same name by James Sallis - was originally intended as a vehicle for Hugh Jackman, before evolving into something much more under the direction of Denmark's Nicolas Winding Refn, who has already made several gritty crime dramas.

In Drive, Ryan Gosling stars as the Driver, a largely mute antihero who works as a Hollywood stunt driver by day, and a highly skilled getaway driver by night. Things become complicated though when he finds himself falling for his neighbour (Carey Mulligan), a mother with a young son, and he agrees to help her ex-con husband (Oscar Isaac) on a job that promises to finally cancel the family's mob debts. Surprise, surprise, things go horribly wrong, and the Driver is caught up in various double-crosses and revenge killings, from which he has to extricate himself... and protect those he cares for.

Sure, Driver doesn't sound any different from dozens of neo-noir thrillers we've seen before, but it's certainly unusual to find one with a cast that includes critically acclaimed actors like Gosling and Mulligan, as well as Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman in supporting roles.

Flaunting long, brooding silences, a strongly 80s aesthetic, and promising tributes to the likes of Bullitt, A Fistful of Dollars and Pulp Fiction, the ultra-stylish and deliberately retro Drive was one of the biggest audience-pleasers at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where the film had its world premiere in May. Although the film did fall short of winning the Festival's highest prize, the Palme d'Or, Drive did score the Best Director award for Winding Refn.

Viewers should beware though. Despite its premise and, well, its title, Drive is not a movie in the Fast and the Furious mould. I make this point because some dear sweet woman in Michigan is currently suing the film's distributors for misleading her about the nature of the film. She entered the cinema expecting a popcorn flick with numerous high-octane chase sequences, and instead she got a strongly character-driven, atmospheric crime tale with bursts of graphic violence.

For the record Drive is 93% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, 93% of all critics gave the film a positive review. This said, while movie buffs are said to enjoy the smart, referential nature of Drive, other viewers have been polarised by the film's generally quiet, contemplative nature. And then there's the debate about whether the movie is too polished for its thematically resonant good.

Anyway, Drive released in North America on 16 September. Unfortunately, the film's critical love and online adoration (I first heard about Drive on my fave movie blogs) didn't translate into massive box office success. However, that's not really unexpected given the film's unusual market positioning.

Meanwhile, interested South Africans still have a 2 month wait for Drive. The film is set for local release only on 9 December.


A Gamer's Wife said…
I took my husband to see Drive on a surprise date. I had read plenty of reviews about it beforehand and expected the slower, quieter pace, but I too was completely caught off guard by the bursts of violence. My husband also found the main character hard to like, but I didn't have the same issue. Overall, it was an enjoyable, artsy indie film that we would see it again.
Pfangirl said…
Thanks for commenting, AGM, and in fact thanks for all your recent comments. Even if I don't always respond I do read everything that is posted on this blog.

It's nice to hear your thoughts about the film as a normal moviegoer. I'm keen to watch it now myself, and see if it meets my expectations.
A Gamer's Wife said…
My pleasure! I think I found your blog when I was googling for other girl gamers, and then ended up staying because of your movie and video game coverage. Keep up the good work!

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