Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn
(number 340 – jumped ahead because it was on the shelf at the video shop and I was interested)
This is a tricky movie. When it came out I was very unsure about it, because it seemed interesting and it got an awful lot of love from movie critics, but I sort of thought it might be too nasty for me.
The movie is about a stunt driver in L.A. who also gets money working as a mechanic and driving for criminals. He has a very strict set of rules when it comes to the last, but you get the feeling that he loves to drive so much that he can’t stay away from the scene.
Ryan Gosling plays Driver with a kind of blankness that I think was meant to evoke Clint Eastwood’s man with no name, but something about his performance wasn’t gelling for me. Maybe Gosling doesn’t have the gravitas that Eastwood had, or maybe that character doesn’t quite work in the modern urban setting the way it works in the wild West but… it wasn’t quite working. The moments where he let concern or affection actually show in his face and in his actions were heightened from his lack of reaction at other times though.
As for the plot, it’s twisty and turny but also kind of… very predictable. Movies about crime and plans going wrong and car chases, these aren’t new stories. As a viewer I have a lot of experience in how these things pan out. There were surprises. Mostly the sudden and brutal levels of violence at unexpected moments, which were upsetting. A couple of times I actually closed my eyes because realistic violence is something I find hard to watch.
All that said, I did enjoy the slickness of the movie, and it had a lot of great actors in it. Although, as Anna says, Ron Perlman plays the same character in every movie – it’s such a great character that you don’t mind. Carey Mulligan did a wonderful turn as a doe eyed, vulnerable love interest – and I was sad that she didn’t get to do more.
Does it make me love the people? Yes, it did. I’m starting to notice that there are dedicated sections of movies devoted to making me love the main characters. It doesn’t get more obvious than Ryan Gosling tenderly carrying a sleeping child though 😄 Well, maybe Chad Michael Murray looking after sick kids in Christmas Cupid but that movie was anything but subtle.
Bechdel test: Nope. Christina Hendricks was there to be a sexy criminal and Carey Mulligan was there to be love interest/mother figure/vulnerable angel/object of desire.
The more movies I watch with this format of review in mind the more I am noticing the tendency for characters in movies to be male by default. If there is a character cast as a woman it’s a deliberate statement – she is love interest, she is sexy, she is destroying things for male character, etc. The base character default is of the male gender in so many movies. Of course not all movies, movies made specifically for women for example, but when it comes to movies about this kind of thing – I can’t think of any male characters who had to be gendered male, and yet they all are.
(I would like to see a version of Drive where Driver was female and nothing about the script was changed.)
“You look like you’re hard to work with.”
Standard: “All right. So I illegally walked over to a seventeen year old girl. And I walk up and I say, “Hello, Miss. What is your name?” And she didn’t say anything. And then I said, “Well my name is Standard Gabriel.” Then what did you say?
Irene: I said, “Where’s the deluxe version?””
State of Mind: Not sure if want. It was good and bad.