Thursday, May 29, 2014

Drive Review

This is my 15th viewing of Drive. That isn't an exaggeration, I have literally seen the film 15 times now. I didn't even attempt to catch it theatrically because honestly, I didn't know anything about it and I incorrectly assumed that it would be a film focused on car racing, like the horrendous misfire Need for Speed that was released earlier this year. If the main draw for a film is how cool a car is or how fast it can go, I am pretty much guaranteed to loathe every second of it, so I never even planned on giving Drive a chance.

I'm so glad I changed my mind.

The opening sequence of the film is dazzling and sets the tone for the ultra stylish slice of noir that plants the stupidest smile on my face for roughly 90 straight minutes. I fell in love when Driver avoided the police by blending into a rowdy crowd of Clippers fans as they exited the Staples Center, a sexy confidence to his movements that literally forced me to admit to my wife that for the first time in my life, I was without a doubt physically attracted to a man.

Suddenly, the hot pink writing came across the screen and the song "Nightcall" by Kavinsky began to play. At this point I didn't even need the rest of the film. I hit pause on the remote, unleashed the laptop and typed "join Nicolas Winding Refn fan club" into Google. At the time it was my first experience with the genius auteur, but I didn't need any further exploration into his filmography to recognize the outrageous talent on display. Ten minutes of one movie and I already had one thought rolling through my mind: "Holy shit. This guy is good".

The sublime casting of Carey Mulligan as Irene. The small but vitally important performance by Oscar Isaac as Standard Gabriel, so god damn good I never even consider the possible upgrade to the deluxe edition. The way a head looks when it is exposed to a slow motion shotgun blast. The exquisite lighting throughout that makes seemingly run of the mill frames look like works of art. The fact that had this been released half my life ago, even fifteen year old me would barely notice a room full of nude women because its impossible to look away from a man seeking revenge wielding a hammer, trembling in anger. The way things get brighter when you kiss the love of your life in an elevator, only to quickly embrace the darkness soon after. The brilliant simplicity of utilizing a light house in order to make a murderous masked man on a beach appear even more haunting.

A real human being, and a real hero.

Drive was released in 2011, and yet every time I watch it I feel as if I am revisiting a classic. A film that serves as a prototype to explain why I cherish the opportunity to sit back and watch a movie. The type of work that reminds me why I wanted to start writing reviews and learn as much as possible about what separates the extraordinary from the ordinary. A modern work of art that dares me to dig deeper, to discover older films that served as inspiration for the vision of Refn.

One of my favorite films of all time, a flawless achievement.


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