DRIVE (Nicolas Winding Refn)
Refn is a filmmaker who has style, but he bored me to death with VALHALLA RISING. I was willing to give him a second chance.
So I watched DRIVE. It's one film you can readily consider a midnight movie, (not particularly referencing to the 'midnight movie' phenomena) because it is perfect for a midnight watch, like if you have a lineup of films to see, DRIVE would be the main event.
Ryan Gosling is breathtaking to watch in a very tense and controlled performance of a stunt driver moonlighting as a getaway vehicle driver. He gets in the crosshairs of the mob and a beautiful young mother (Carey Mulligan), where the angelic, humble simpleton transforms into a crusader of righteousness.
DRIVE has as its central character the quintessential innocent man pitted against the grand scheme of things, and affairs that are not really his; his biggest mistake is that he cared for another human being/s. Any Coen Brothers film would have this element, yet filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn navigates the story so subtly through intense dolly shots, slow-motion, and minimal dialogue that the film not only exists as a moral compass, but a genre standard as well. There is a kind of gloss to DRIVE that makes it sexy and powerful.
Carey Mulligan never looked this much cuter. Okay being bias aside, Mulligan improves a whole lot since her stunning debut in Lone Scherfig's AN EDUCATION. Refn made sure her character isn't another damsel in distress; there is plenty of room for introspection.
The real big steal of the film? Albert Brooks cast against type as a vicious mobster who is charismatic on the surface but a stonecold killer on the inside. I remember him from DEFENDING YOUR LIFE, the film he made with Meryl Streep where he makes all those witty one-liners and sarcastic punchlines, and now this comic actor has really crossed over and proved he can also scare people.
What makes DRIVE an unmissable and unstoppable watch of a film is the combined experience. Talented actors, a clever manipulation of a seemingly regular story, kickass soundtrack, admirable cinematography and a hats off to some notable films of various genres (gangster films, heist films, even Westerns) make you your money's worth and more.