Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Verdict: Pretty damn great
I remember when I was writing my review of The Thing, I love the film, and I’ve seen it many times, so it was really easy to write about it. This time around it’s a similar situation but The Thing isn’t actually that wide a seen film, where as Drive has already had so much said about it, it’s actualy a lot harder to find anything new to say.
For a film that actually was a reasonable box office sucess, Drive has already developed somewhat of a cult reputation and drawn more than its fair share of contraversy. We have had both a Texas woman suing the film’s distributors for misleading atvertisements and being antisemtic, (spoiler, it’s not), and Radio 1 recently rescoring the movie for a one time showing utilising bands like The 1975 and Biffy Clyro, very much transplanting the film’s smooth, iconic, (properly iconic not Ubisoft iconic), synth led score with something more edgy and rock centric, not as an improvement but a compliment, almost like a big fan edit.
The fact is that Nicolas Winding Refn has never been a filmmaker who aims to please everyone, just take his quote that if “everyone can agree on a film it hasn’t cut deep enough”. This film is interesting mainly because it takes Refn’s history of exploitation, edgy, crime thrillers like Pusher and Bleeder , and throws it into a much more mainstream areana, kicking up all kinds of sand in the process. It’s an interesting film because it’s marketed to the The Fast and the Furious crowd, references films like Gasper Noe’s Irreversible, and is really neither of these things. There are 2 car chases in the whole films and it’s really a romantic tragedy at heart.
I watched it this time with my Dad, after many times inisiting, ‘no Dad, Dad there are only 2 car chases, Dad it’s not The Fast and the Furious I promise’ and for the first act he made pretty much every call, (mind only after they’d set up that particular plot point), and at the end his complaint was that “it was too spiritual”, which is kind of where the film aims itself, it elevates what in other hands might be fairly standard crime thriller elements. Some might call his distinctive visual aestetic and Cliff Martinez’s woozy score and the synth pop soundtrack style over substance, I just call it filmmaking. The fact is all style is meant to do is tell the story better and it really does that in Drive. There is one iconic scene in an elevator that in other hands would come off empty but the way Refn directs it, it is an absolutely heart breaking moment. It is up there for me with “you’ve met me at a very strange time in my life” from Fight Club, the Heroes in a tunnel bit from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and some of the more viceral sequences from The Thing in terms of all time great movie moments. Then at the end, it just leavs me feeling all gooey and mellow and nice, and for a film with such graphic violence in, that’s pretty damn impressive.
Also, compliment to the British that we quite righly nominated it for the best film BAFTA, best actress and best director, all of which it deserves. It also has some really good sound mixing.