Drive – **1/2

Posted: February 27, 2012 in 2011, Action, Crime/Detective, Drama, USA, XX1/2

Contrary to most people who’ve seen Drive, I am neither a fan nor a hater of this peculiar indie crime drama. I can totally understand people feeling ripped off after having seen the trailer and expecting an action packed Hollywood vehicle. Because, well, it’s definitely NOT action packed and doesn’t feel ‘American’ at all (even though it’s set in LA). But it’s like people who go see The Artist and then complain that it was a silent movie! You can also read up on the movie you’re about to see.

I didn’t really read much about Drive. I just saw it on top of many movie lists last december and it stars Ryan Gosling, who’s righteously considered to be the most promising actor of his generation. What more reasons do you need to watch the ‘most impressive cinema experience of 2011’ (according to many journalists around the globe)? Well, sorry, journalists around the globe, you’re all over-exaggerating. Maybe some of you didn’t even see the movie, but feel it’s necessary to tell the world how ‘awesome’ this movie is. I kind of felt the same in the first half of this movie, but as it got violent and gory I just lost the admiration.

Ryan Gosling is a car mechanic who works as a stuntman on movie sets and as a driver for all kinds of dirty jobs. He’s a reserved and scrupulous guy, seemingly unemotional, but heroic for the few people he cares for and ruthless for anyone who stands in his or their way. He gets befriended with a neighbor, who’s raising a young kid on her own as the father serves a sentence in prison. You can feel the chemistry, but you can sense the caution too.  As the husband returns from prison,things change fast. The ex-criminal soon gets into trouble again, endangering the lives of his son and wife… and consequently drawing the protective and almost obsessive care of Ryan Gosling’s character.

As mentioned before, the movie starts great. The opening scene is definitely one of the best car chases ever. Ryan Gosling thinks while he’s driving. He’s not just getting away as fast as possible crashing dozens of cars. No, he tries to outsmart the cops… The atmosphere is set. It’s dark, slow and there’s almost no dialogue. The cinematography is brilliant. No handheld camera’s, but fixed ones who just show scenes as they happen from one angle only. Joined by a very daunting electronic score that reminds us of early eighties synth days. Gosling doesn’t say much. He just looks and his looks tell everything. To be fair, he does have the same look as he has in Ides of March, but it’s again very efficient. He never smiles, so when he does, you know it’s heartfelt. And when he focuses on someone it’s either because he likes the person or he is going to snap at them.  You can’t get a grip of the driver’s nameless character. He looks so vulnerable and sweet, but there’s a ferocious killer inside.

And that’s where I kind of lost interest. Somewhere halfway in the movie the driver turns into an American Psycho-like killer who’s out on a vengeance. Sure, he doesn’t really intend to kill, but he does. And as he is, others around him do the same. well, it’s the other way around.  After an hour or so the movie turns into a maffia flic with elements of pure horror. I really didn’t need to see a fork being stuck into someone’s eye. It just didn’t add anything to the story. And I really didn’t need to see two people’s head getting exploded and smashed. Wrong!

As the movie came to an end, I was happy it did and it left me totally emotionless. Just like the main character of the movie.  The gore had replaced the fond memories of the visual and audible beauty of the first half. This could have been a great movie, but it isn’t. It’s a unique cinema experience, a mix of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Sophia Coppola’s Nowhere and Dexter!

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