Getaway From Me

Movie: Drive (2011)

I had heard nothing but good things about this film, and many have urged me to check it out. Turns out, it’s actually quite polarizing. A trip to metacritic’s user reviews turns up a score of zeros and tens, with practically no middle-ground. Drive is essentially a stylized – what some would call artsy – film with no substance, at least none I could find. So, I guess you’ll like it if it’s your style.

Drive isn’t really that much about driving, though its main character, known only as “the driver” or “the kid”, drives for a living. As stunt-driver by day and getaway driver by night, he wears an 80s white jacket with a scorpion embroidered on the back. Still your style?

Ryan Gosling seems to be playing into the popularity of asperger’s syndrome on TV, but actually he’s playing the silent and mysterious type. He falls for the wife of a guy about to get out of jail, and their cute kid. Sure enough, when the husband gets out he happens to have a problem “the driver” is perfectly suited to help with: robbing a pawn shop. And, of course, it turns out the gig wasn’t just about robbing a pawn shop, and our leading man gets into more trouble than any chick is worth. He does it anyway, of course, because he’s in love. Or so we’re told by the halo of light and hallelujah music that comes on when they kiss. You wouldn’t know it from Gosling’s face- but he’s still being silent and mysterious, and is also too cool for character development.

The violence, when it hits, is fun and delightfully brutal, but even here you feel the weight of the film’s art. It’s one of those movies that makes you feel stupid if you don’t like it. It’s suppose to be like that, you’ll hear fans say. It’s subtle, and cool, and styled.

It’s also bland, predictable and, for lack of a better term, silly. The mafia plot is so vague and uninteresting I found no pleasure in the admittedly great performances of the supporting cast. Gosling’s “too cool for a facial expression” routine got old about twenty minutes in. Carey Mulligan – who plays the love interest, Irene – comes across as a socialite compared to her husband, and I could not fathom why she would be interested in either man.

It all boils down into a movie that is clearly well-made, but empty. It also seems to have forgotten its script. A movie can certainly have succinct dialogue, but in Drive it simply feels like they’ve got absolutely nothing to say to each other. I like a well styled film, but I guess I just need to be able to care about what’s happening to the characters, and I don’t in Drive.

If you like this movie for its style, then good for you. For me, I kept thinking: The guy wears a white jacket with a gold scorpion on it. Maybe it’s what a person with absolutely no social or communication skills thinks is cool. Certainly, a douche-bag might wear it, but “the driver” doesn’t say enough to come across as that. He doesn’t come across as anything but a colored-in picture a child might make of the great tragic heroes of cinema. The real Man With No Name would laugh Gosling out of town without even bothering to make him dance with a few shots to the feet.

You can like it all you want, of course, and I’ll respect that, but Drive does nothing for me.

Dice roll: 3

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