…and the quest to see everything

Finally, a Drive Review. Ish.

‘I drive? for the movies?’ ‘Can you dance?’ It’s like Drive‘s star Ryan Gosling has a bit of an upward inflection like a New Yorker who moved to LA, the latter being the film’s setting. I didn’t buy him as a ex-Floridian in Blue Valentine and even if he doesn’t sound like he’s from ‘here,’ the accent isn’t a flaw and it’s actually cute.

This is a call to suggest music for me, trying to reinvent myself and my iPod because of the Drive soundtrack, especially this song because it’s ridiculous, especially in a part the begins in the minute and a half mark that they skip in the movie.

This song was playing during Standard’s (Oscar Isaac) ‘homecoming from prison’ scene. Standard is the Driver’s (Gosling) platonic-y love interest Irene’s (Carey Mulligan) husband, the two men reluctantly joining a heist that goes awry. Despite of myself and my knowledge of stereotypes that I shouldn’t write, I find it incredulous that a former jail-bird listens to electronic synth-pop. Maybe in other ‘New LA’ films but not these characters. Or maybe it’s director Nicolas Winding Refn re-imagining the scene with his own soundtrack à la Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette or oh who cares.

[ETA: Sasha James doesn’t talk about this scene nor the music. Her post is kinder to the film, but I’m still not sure which one of us hates the movie more.]

Imagine Neil Marshall as the director (maybe), Hugh Jackman as the Driver (no), Jacinda Barrett as Blanche (maybe) and a Hispanic actress, say, Rosario Dawson as Irene (maybe). I write this because Mulligan’s chemistry with Gosling and Isaac was absent. We’ve seen Gosling fall magically in love with his co-stars and it’s strangely sad not to see it happen here.

Looking up selected songs from the soundtrack as well as its iMDb page, where I got the cast and crew turnover from, made me feel like I was subconsciously destroying or deconstructing the movie before I even watched it. But I also get the feeling that Refn was doing the same while making it.

Maybe I should embrace the artificiality or  seen the characters as anomic and dislocated, their bodies and voices clashing against the sounds of a desolate environment like characters in a Western. But it’s easier to rely on my reaction while experience the movie. Refn miscalculates the film’s mood and doesn’t let the characters on Hossein Amini‘s script grow. 2.5/5.

7 responses

  1. The soundtrack is ridiculous, I love it. So underbelly-of-the-eighties.

    I kind of disagree with the Mulligan comment. I mean, I’m pretty tone-deaf when it comes to chemistry between actors, but her and Gosling didn’t feel very out of sync. And I don’t think she got many scenes with Isaacs, but their one notable one was pretty good.


    October 4, 2011 at 3:35 pm

  2. I feel a little bit guilty saying that Drive needed more driving. When the action comes it is tense and artfully done without shying away from the extreme violence, but that all starts to go away as soon as the characters start talking, or sighing and looking at each other. Nice review.

    October 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

  3. Simon: I know I’m kind of hating on the soundtrack but I was also just listening to Kavinsky so I can’t talk.

    But yes, Oscar Isaac carried that relationship in those few scenes. Standard’s telling the ‘illegal’ scene and Irene wasn’t saying anything, like she’s de facto saying ‘I know, I’m beautiful.’ She’s been more interesting in other movies. And if Oscar Isaac is the most human actor in your movie, you got a problem.

    Dan: This reminds me of the time I criticized Black Swan in front of a transvestite and she told me that I was one of those gay guys who are so critical of everything, alleging that I probably thought that Black Swan needed more dancing. Well, it did. And I kind of see your perspective on Drive as well.

    Drive presents the possibilities of an action film, that there’s a kind that’s just campy barbarism and there’s another that’s an ’emotional’ action movie. It tries to be both but ends up just filling both glasses half full.

    October 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm

  4. I’m still, still, STILL mulling this over because I find the entire thing so strange. Awesome, in the original sense of the world – not necessarily winsome or worthy of love but leaving me in awe. I admire it for how it presents itself…but, it keeps me at arms length and I wonder if that’s the point?

    October 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

    • Are we talking about how the movie presents itself or how I present and interpret the movie? I’m also looking forward to what you’ll have to write about it.

      October 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

  5. How it presents itself. I think it works a bit to its own detriment in the way it narrowly focuses on its sombre protagonist, but I’ve yet to work on my review. general laziness, and lack of inspiration. (PS. Pot calling the kettle black, because my blogging has been woefully sparse but I wish you’d write more…and longer reviews.)

    October 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    • It actually makes me think that other, more ‘mediocre’ movies have established relationships and meet cutes easier than this movie. I say this too many times, but the music tries to suture a connection between the Driver and Irene more than the actors and the hackneyed script do.

      Also, I’ve been having a lazy procrastination week since this post went online. Two more entries then I’m going full out on movies this season. Which is important because Oscar season has begun and I have money and there are like a million movies playing within a twenty mile radius yet I’m home watching 30 Rock reruns.

      October 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm

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