Drive is a 2011 neo noir film starring Ryan Gosling. The film was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. This is a film that I completely missed out on while it was in theaters but discovered on home video. It turned out to be one of my favorite films of that year and I always sing its praises.
The film is unique as Gosling stars as an unnammed man who is credited as The Driver. We know nothing about the man other than that he is a man of few words and that he is good with cars as it enables him to work at a garage and also be a stuntman. It also enables him to be a wheelman for criminals in the city. The first scene shows him phoning the people he will be driving for and telling them his strict rules and how he chooses a modest car for the job.
The film is interesting as how the Driver falls for his next door neighbor played by Carey Mulligan. She has one young son and her son is in jail. The Driver and her quickly fall for one another but her husband, played by Oscar Isaac, soon returns. Victimised by his former criminal connections, the Driver decides to help out as he cares much more for the son and his safety. Then things take a horrible turn and the Driver is soon entangled with dangerous criminals with mob connections.
What makes this film unique is how quiet it is despite being a crime thriller. There are many scenes where there is little to no talking but the atmosphere is everything. There are many scenes showing Gosling and Mulligan’s characters simply being in each other’s company and saying nothing. It’s a subtle way of showing the two falling for one another but not being explicit or obvious about it.
However when the movie chooses to be violent, it is very loud and explicit about it. These scenes are also unexpected and nd showing how these moments can be more shocking for that reason. There is a very infamous scene involving an elevator that perfectly encapsulates this notion.
The supporting cast is relatively small but all are standouts. Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaac, Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston are all great in the movie. Albert Brooks is the standout though. He plays an assuming gangster who is implied to be wanting out of this life. But we also see that there is a reason why he is a gangster. I had only seen Brooks in comedic roles before this and was taken by great surprise.
Refn crafts a perfect noir thriller set in modern day. This film is anchored by an unassuming performance by Gosling. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it. It is not a movie for everyone but give it a try. I know I didnt think I would like it but now it is one of my favorite films.