Review: Drive

Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn's showed he was one of the strongest new directors around with his Pusher Trilogy and his Norse epic, Valhalla Rising, showing a trademark style in these visually breathtaking films. His latest feature, Drive, certainly does not disappoint. Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stuntman doubling as a getaway driver. Whilst doing a job for a friend, the robbery goes horribly wrong and he ends up putting the life of those he cares about at risk from ruthless mobsters (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman).

Winding Refn's direction is stunning, every shot looking like a work of art. Even scenes of ultra-violence (and yes there are quite a few - queue Albert Brook's jamming a fork into someone's eye), graphic as they may are breathtakingly executed with a strong sense of precision and skill. There's two particularly striking scenes - one with Carey Mulligan and Gosling in an elevator and another where Gosling confronts Perlman on a beach. The extreme violence may not be for everyone, but in the context of the film and under the helm of Winding Refn works incredibly well.

There's also a powerful retro atmosphere pulsating through the film: the darkened city streets immediately brought a Miami Vice type vibe to my mind.  The music choice also adds to this atmosphere and surely this year's finest film soundtrack from Cliff Martinez. The original music and choice of electronic new-wave tracks like Kavinsky & Lovefoxxx's Nightcall and College & Electric Youth's Real Hero are definitely tracks you'll be adding to your iPod after the film. Not to forget the grandiose Ticking Clock by The Chromatics, which was used heavily in the trailer.

Drive also boasts a fine cast: Gosling leads incredibly with the character of the Driver harking back to the 'Man With No Name' and mysterious heroes of the western genre - there's also a nice like homage through the Driver's ever present toothpick. The character also rarely speaks adding to his mysterious appeal - he's someone I personally wanted to know more about/see more of, which is a pleasant change as a viewer not to have everything explained to you. Carey Mulligan also does well in a fairly underdeveloped role but does the sweet eyed, kind mother act with a genuine sense of credibility. The chemistry between Mulligan and Gosling is certainly not conventional due to very little actually being said between the pair, but the skill of these two actors and a strong script still manages to be conveyed strongly.

The supporting roles are equally as strong; particularly Albert Brooks as the venomous mob boss, Bernie Rose - particularly surprising as I viewed him as a largely comic actor. He's a character that particularly dominates the screen and his presence usually proves threatening. The ever-reliable/entertaining Ron Perlman also features and is always a joy to watch, this time as Rose's partner in crime. Christina Hendricks and Bryan Cranston also appear in a short-lived but memorable roles.

Drive is a magnificent blend of retro action cinema with several arthouse elements carefully added;  proving itself to be one of the year's strongest films. A pulsating soundtrack and some remarkable performances also help establish that Drive is a very special film.

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