I did not know what to expect when I started watching the film Drive earlier this week. The only things I really knew about the film was that Ryan Gosling was a driver in it, that Albert Brooks got nominated as a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor for it and that a number of my friends had told me how good the film was. Those of you who recommended this film to me, you were absolutely correct. Complete with some brilliant performances and a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, Drive grabbed my attention in the first five minutes and didn’t let go until the film was over.
In the most basic terms, Drive is about a young man aptly referred to as Driver (Ryan Gosling) who spends literally all of his free time around cars. During the day he works as a stunt driver for the movies as well as working at a garage owned by his mentor, Shannon (Bryan Cranston). By night Driver works as a getaway driver for anybody that requires his services for whatever purpose. Shannon, who sets up all of Driver’s jobs be they legal or illegal, believes that Driver has the potential to be the best racecar driver of all time. Trusting his instinct, Shannon enlists the services (and money) of Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) to acquire a decent car to fix up. Bernie agrees and the deal is made. Meanwhile, Driver meets his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son and the two start seeing each other. When Irene’s husband unexpectedly is released from jail and returns home, Driver begins back off until it becomes clear that though he is out of jail Standard (Oscar Issac) is not out of trouble. Owing money to a powerful man, Irene’s family is threatened until Driver offers to drive Standard on a job that would allow him to pay back the money. All hell breaks loose on the job and Driver ends up with a million dollars that isn’t his. When he finds out the money is Nino’s (Ron Perlman), Bernie’s partner, Driver goes up against them both in hopes of saving himself, Irene and Irene’s son but only leaves a trail of blood and destruction in his wake.
Though there was no bad performance in the film, two stood out above the rest. The first was Bryan Cranston as the sad but lovable Shannon. Generally with the best of intentions at heart, Shannon dreams big, always look for the next way to make money. He trusts his instincts, which unfortunately always led him to a heap of bad luck. Cranston plays the part perfectly, making the audience love his character and feel incredibly guilty for him throughout the film. Cranston’s performance was great but if you see this movie for only one reason, make it Albert Brooks. Brooks does not step foot on screen without completely commanding the camera. Tearing through each scene with an intensity and fierceness that befits his character, Brooks plays the insanely violent and powerful Bernie Rose with enough skill to earn him the 2012 Supporting Actor nom and maybe even to deserve the win.
There was no aspect of Drive that didn’t impress me, including the camera work and the music. The camera was very important to the state of Driver’s mind. A cool, collected person, especially behind the wheel, Driver rarely loses his cool, panics or shows much emotion at all. The camera emulates this behavior, moving smoothly through scenes and following Gosling without using quick or choppy cuts. The camera stays as calm as Gosling does. As the film progresses and Gosling begins to lose his calm demeanor, the camera follows his move, losing its fluidity to become increasingly distressed.
When you are next flipping through you Netflix Instant Queue, Drive is certainly a good film to land on. There is no weak part in the film, directing, acting or writing. Even the music fits perfectly, bringing an odd sense of beauty to the film and tying it together. I give this film a 7.5 out 10 (many of those points coming from Albert Brooks’ performance). Though it can be quite violent at times, this film is worth watching.