tongue-tied lightning

The Best Films of 2011: #3 Drive

Style as substance in the extreme, Drive made for one of the most hypnotic movie going experiences of my life. In theaters I tend to find myself checking the time at least once or twice even during films I’m enjoying, blame it on a low attention span. When the end credits rolled for Drive I awoke as if out of a daze, newly aware of my surroundings, having been engrossed in a world I would’ve gladly spent twice as long in. A world that resembles our own but also that of a fairy tale, underscored by the story of the scorpion and the frog, albiet one filtered through the mind of Travis Bickle.

Drive’s strange magnetism is apparent from the very first scene, a superbly shot and edited getaway. The entire film is composed with a remarkable attention to detail, not just the stunning cinematography and pitch-perfect sound design but little things that engage the audience. Like The Driver’s apparent LA Clippers fandom being revealed as just another aspect of his escape plan. Just when this sequence is easing it’s grip on the audience the opening credits welcome you into its 80’s-inspired swoon, courtesy of Kavinsky & Lovefoxx’s “Nightcall.” At this point I had surrendered to the film and was willing to follow it pretty much wherever it wanted to take me.

Which isn’t to say there weren’t moments that drew me out of my stupor. Touting a strong supporting cast featuring Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, and AMC stalwarts Christina Hendricks and Brian Cranston, acting is seldom an Achilles heel in Drive. That said, Ron Perlman has some cringe-inducing line readings, none worse than when he refers to a call as ‘one motherfucking fine ass pussymobile motherfucker!’ And any review of Drive would be incomplete without mention of the violence. I actually admired how extreme they were willing to go. Long desensitized by action films piling up bloodless bodies as if it’s some kind of contest, it was refreshing to see the extermination of life induce the sickening feelings it should (or at least should have, a guy behind me laughing and saying “he’s going to wake up with a headache in the morning!” was the sole blemish on an otherwise pristine trip to the theater), and if they had to stretch the bounds of reality along the way? So be it.


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