Upon turning the age of eighteen, the curfew which restricts licensed drivers to be on the road past 11 P.M. is beautifully lifted. So, to celebrate this liberation, I decided to drive forty-two minutes to see Drive for the second time in theaters (bit of a tongue twister there). I could spend all night writing about this absolute gem of a film, but I will instead do my best to sum up my infinite love in a shorter span of time for the sake of my health and your watering eyes from the glare of your computer monitor.
Drive, if you are unfamiliar, is an art-house flick starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Nicholas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising). The story revolves around a man only known as Driver, a part-time Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a wheelman for anyone needing a getaway vehicle post-robbery, heist, etc. Driver is a man with two very conflicting personalities: he is on one hand a kind, quiet, intrapersonal individual brought out of his shell by a woman who lives a few doors down from him in an apartment complex (fun fact: his apartment number is 405, which happens to be the name of the most congested highway in Los Angeles; a small wink to the audience regarding his immensely divided personalities). On the other side of the coin, he is a man of extreme violence and brutal determination bent on his own conviction of justice. Just as he leads two lives, he has two utterly contrasting personalities that, as the film goes on, cannot help but be beautifully and disturbingly meshed together.
The film boasts some hyper-violent scenes (you may not be able to look at your kitchen fork the same way), yet the overarching tone remains very composed. Every frame of Drive oozes with inventive and artistic pizzazz. Upon a second viewing, I was able to sit down and wholly absorb the abundant treats laid out by the cinematographer and camera crew. Slow pans, adroit use of mirrors, and lingering shots are a few of the techniques for the viewers feasting pleasure. Magnificent contrasting colors (Winding Refn happens to be color-blind, not having the ability to see mid-colors) are used in every shot which provide the perfect backdrop for the contained energy being displayed on the foreground by each character. However, even the most diplomatic blend of fancy camera craft can strike you with a cinematic cacophony if the images depicted are tasteless or dull. Thankfully, Drive graces the viewer instead with a delectable symphony of images.
One final element that needs quick mention is the soundtrack. Utilizing artists such as Kavinsky, Desire, College, and Chromatics, this memorable soundtrack plays a large and attractive part in setting the vibe and tone of Drive. The two sequences where College’s song “A Real Hero” is expertly placed are both alluring and bittersweet in their own respects due considerably to the musical choice.
The combination of Gosling’s arresting screen presence, the undeniably 80’s retro-vibe, an unforgettable soundtrack, and dazzling imagery with a calm tone wavering on the distorted make Drive an irresistibly engaging cinematic treat.
Watching film, chiefly theatrical viewings, has always been an outlet of escapism for me. Regardless of any turmoil in my life, be it internal or external, I have always been able to steal away from that puzzle or problem, conflict or concern, for a glorious, albeit relatively short trip into the world of cinema. We all need to find at least one outlet that allows us to step back from the often hurried and accelerated clamor of everyday life and take that much-needed breath. Having a second viewing of Drive under my belt made me realize something as I drove home: I happen to see the film at two quite different points in my life, yet both ventures allowed me to instantly slip back into that veil of comfort and invariable companionship that is perpetually given by the everlasting catharsis of motion pictures.