Was this really a decade ago!? The excellent Drive is now something of a cult classic, merging cool stuff with driving and a general sense of poignancy.
Drive the Car, Mr. Gosling
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn from a screenplay by Hossein Amini, this SOB was as cool as a cucumber back in 2011.
Drive helped launch Ryan Gosling’s career into superstardom. Since this film, he’s perfected the moody, strong but silent protagonist brooding about the place.
Gosling stars as the nameless anti-hero, who many refer to as Driver. He’s got some rad driving abilities and works as a Hollywood stunt driver.
But to prop up his bank balance he’s also a moonlighting getaway driver.
Right from the off viewers get what’s ahead, with an impressive mix of retro stylised music and visuals. This is set alongside modernised action.
Driver’s Hollywood jobs are managed by a car shop owner called Shannon (Bryan Cranston), who organises with a mobster called Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) to fund Driver’s racing career.
At his flat, Driver bumps into a new neighbour called Irene (Carey Mulligan).
She has a little boy with her husband Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac), who’s about to be released from jail.
What follows is an initial setup of some calm and possible business opportunities descending into abject violence.
Standard owes money to some gangsters and plans to rob a pawnshop, which ends in the brutal deaths of several key characters.
There’s a lot of extreme violence in Drive, which is offset by occasional moments of tender affection.
Driver takes Irene and her son under his wing, taking their mind off things by driving them to a secret destination he knows about.
The ’80s synth theme runs throughout Drive, but it’s actually supposed to be set in the present day (2011 at the time).
That song is called A Real Hero by Canadian synth-pop band Electric Youth.
Drive proceeds to have a showdown between Bernie, his cronies, and Driver. Who goes out of his way to ensure the protection of Irene and her son. Ultimately paying a massive price.
There’s a kind of Witness (1985) about it, aptly filmed in the Eighties.
But Drive is very modern in its application of action, which is the central aspect of the film. And it’s all delivered in rather riveting fashion.
And as a film we’re tempted to say it’s a modern cult classic. A tense and engaging action romp with heart.
The performances are all great, it’s stylish, memorable, and makes you think. About stuff. Such as driving.
Gosling’s anti-hero is also an interesting character study.
He knows right from wrong and will do what’s necessary to protect Irene and her son. But he’s capable of performing staggering acts of violence, famously in the elevator scene.
Full credit to Albert Brooks, too, who’s in hideous form as the odious Bernie.
And, well, 10 years, eh? 10 bloody years. Where did that go? But it is indeed a decade old now.
We think it’s testament to the film’s quality it still looks, and feels, so fresh here in 2021.
The was was adapted from a 2005 novel by James Sallis. Off its $15 million budget it was a modest hit, taking in $84.1 million.
Most of the film’s shooting took place in LA of September 2010, with director Refn and Gosling choosing filming locations as they drove around the city during nights off.
LA provided the crew with a cheaper location to film.
To save on Budget, Refn moved into a home and invited his crew to live with him for the whole shoot. A lot of the film’s production was completed in his home, as the cast and dcrew worked on watching and editing the film.
Gosling’s character says very little during Drivee after the actor and Refn agreed to shred much of Driver’s dialogue.
Bryan Cranston suggested making his character, Shannon, garrulous to cover the lack of much talking in the film. And so the Mr. Cranston ad libbed many of his lines on set.
He also completed a stunt driving course, so was able to complete some of the film’s chase scenes himself.
Along with Bryan Cranston in a small role (during the height of Breaking Bad mania), Refn cast Albert Brooks as the main antagonist.
Brooks typically stars in comedies and was one of the leads in Finding Nemo and its sequel.
But in Drive he plays an absolute maniac, which he does remarkably well. Further proof the idea of casting comedians as baddies can work a treat.
The film was nominated for only one Oscar (Best Sound Editing), but did receive a standing ovations at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Refn went on to win the Best Director award at the festival thanks to the movie.