Thursday, October 20, 2011


I mentioned last week that I wanted to write about the movie Drive, but was kind enough not to subject you to my weak attempt at a film review. It's a film that is worth seeing, but I left the theater thinking, “I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t that.” I can’t imagine anyone having a different reaction. It’s a film that is very hard to classify, and leaves you thinking about it for days to come. I think reviewer Catherine Bray sums it up much better than I can.

Anytime I see a movie trailer with lots of action, explosions and badass scenes, I have a visceral reaction and want to jump off my couch and head out to the movie theater and see it immediately. Even if the plot is absurd (see: Real Steel), I get sucked in by all the action. The trailer for Drive is full of action, but it does not belong in the same class as the average action film. They tend to be designed for entertainment purposes, not to provide depth or soul searching or Oscar nominations. They exist just to add some good, fast fun to our mundane lives. Drive definitely does not fall into that category, and there are extended periods where it is not action packed at all. Much of the story focuses on development of relationships between the characters with very little dialogue and with a musical score that I hated. The character development added to the depth of the film and the fact that the actors did not depend upon dialogue made Ryan Gosling’s performance so much stronger.

Perhaps it is the early quietness of the film that makes the action so much more exciting. There are moments when it seems like not much is happening, and suddenly you are watching fast-paced action and brutal violence. I do not just throw around the label "brutal violence", either. I'm talking American History X, teeth-on-the-curb-scene brutal. It’s intense. Ryan Gosling is intense. His character speaks so infrequently that when he does, it is not to be taken lightly. Even what seems to be casual conversation with a small child watching cartoons reveals something about the core of his character. The filmmakers do not dumb things down for the audience, but when it is all said and done, you are left to decide for yourself how you feel about the movie and the characters. Or, like me, you may have to take a couple of days to process. I think that is the mark of a good film. When you walk out of the theater and continue to think about what you have just seen.

Apparently I am not the only one who had a ponderous reaction to the film. On October 9th, someone inexplicably threw a hot dog at Tiger Woods during the Open. It was revealed a few days later that the dog pitcher was inspired by Ryan Gosling’s character, which inspired him to do something “courageous and epic.” This is rather bizarre, as there was no hot dog throwing in the film. In fact, I don’t even remember anyone eating in the film at all. It’s hard to determine how that connection was made.

But the reactions to the film go beyond the hurling of mystery meats. The Hollywood Prospectus at has a great article about a lawsuit inspired by the film. I don't know what that says about the film, but it's definitely having an affect on audiences. Perhaps not the affect the filmmakers had hoped for, but an inspiration nonetheless. But I don't write film reviews, so you'll have to see it for yourself and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Paul said...

The guy who directed Drive also directed one called Valhalla Rising, which is also quiet, brooding, and punctuated with violence. I haven't seen Drive, but I was really bored by Valhalla Rising.