Starring Ryan Gosling (who’s also been in Murder By Numbers alongside Sandra Bullock, The Notebook alongside Rachel McAdams and All Good Things alongside Kirsten Dunst) and Cary Mulligan (famous from An Education, Never Let Me Go and Steve Mcqueen’s latest film Shame) in the leading roles, I had high hopes for this film – as well as it being backed up by rave reviews left and right. The movie was an interesting watch, with some exciting bits and some emotional bits but ultimately, I walked away feeling rather disappointed. It almost felt too forced for me, like it was trying to be one of those ‘deep and meaningful’ films with minimal use of dialogue and tragic tales told, when it really wasn’t one of those movies at all.
I think where this film fell down for me is that the premise is, quite frankly, a flimsy one. And if that initial premise isn’t solid then it’s going to be a rocky journey from there. It would have been much better if maybe a team of writers dissected it and tweaked it a little bit, because I honestly think that would have done the film a world of good. I’m not saying that it’s all bad, but some bits didn’t ring true to me whatsoever. So this guy meets this girl a couple of times, exchange polite conversations once or twice and all of a sudden he’s going to get himself tangled up in some shady criminal affairs just for her? And her husband? What the hell is that? I know I watch a lot of horror films, but I’m still up for a bit of romance when necessary – however, this went completely beyond the realms of believability as far as I’m concerned.
People seem to have likened Ryan Gosling’s character (simply called ‘The Driver’) to a quietly confident, brooding man like those found in famous gangster or classic Western movies with Clint Eastwood in – with him folding his arms, smirking and chewing that damned toothpick. I personally thought that he took himself way too seriously and definitely should have said more words. I literally cannot quote a single line of dialogue that he said throughout the entire film! It’s for this reason that I didn’t feel that much of a connection with Ryan Gosling’s character (although don’t take this as a criticism of his acting).
The extreme violence wasn’t actually a problem for me (surprisingly enough!) and I felt that it did seem to fit in with the rest of the movie, contrary to what a lot of other reviewers remarked upon. At the very start we see that he is involved in ‘naughty’ activities, so later on this did not appear like a complete aberration. There were only a couple of violent scenes present anyway and I was actually fairly taken aback to see very little driving, considering the movie is called ‘Drive’. But if anything, I’m thankful of this, although I’m sure there was a lot of disappointed teenage boy cinema-goers who thought they would be in for some high-octane car chases!
It is interesting to note that the film (originally a book by James Sallis) was at first going to be directed by Neil Marshall, starring Hugh Jackman. Years later when this had been abandoned and Ryan Gosling was brought on board, he was asked to pick the director himself – something which I’m sure he was delighted by. He chose the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn who agreed without hesitation. One can only imagine what the previous ‘incarnation’ would have held for us, but I doubt that it would have been anywhere near as stylish and slick as it turned out to be.
There were some nice visuals for the film and it was well made, have no doubts about that. It is also more complex than your average Hollywood flick which is always good to see. It’s a thrilling watch if you like your films to be more subtle, less action and more character development, less dialogue and more facial expressions. I would actually recommend Drive but I would definitely not rate it as high as has been touted all over the internet – give a watch though and see what you think!